UK: 18+ USA: 21+ | Begambleaware.org | T&Cs apply | Play Responsibly
England midfielder James Maddison has expressed his delight at appearing for the Three Lions, having been used to watching the nation from his living room.
The Leicester star was handed his first international start in England’s 2-0 victory against Ukraine on Sunday, having made his first international appearance from the bench three-and-a-half years ago.
Maddison had been out of recent England squads due to issues such as injuries and a lack of form, but impressed on his full debut in Sunday’s Euro 2024 qualifier at Wembley.
The Foxes star lined out on the left of a front three, playing 85 minutes before being replaced by Manchester City winger Jack Grealish.
Maddison delighted with England ‘second debut’
It had been a long time coming for Maddison’s chance to impress manager Gareth Southgate, but he certainly did so, and is now in with a chance of becoming a regular starter for his nation.
The midfielder is buzzing with what he described as his “second debut,” having been frustrated after being forced to watch on from the bench and indeed from home in England matches gone by.
Six goals and four assists in Leicester’s first 12 league matches of the season earned him a spot in Southgate’s 2022 World Cup squad, but a knee injury eventually denied him the chance to represent his nation at the major tournament.
“It almost feels like a second debut, it was so long ago,” said Maddison, as quoted by BBC Sport. “I’ve worked hard. I love football and just wanted to be back in the England squad. I always watch from my living room and wanted to be part of this.
“As a footballer and someone who strives to be successful, it’s tough to watch your friends playing and not be involved yourself. It has been a good journey and one I’m proud of. I hope I’ve gained the manager’s trust so he knows he can select me.”
Pundits gush over Maddison’s display
Maddison created five chances against Ukraine, which is the most by a player in his first start for England since Theo Walcott against Andorra in 2008. His display in the capital certainly caught the eye, with many former players – now pundits – impressed by the Foxes star.
“A lot of people have been calling for James Maddison to start for England long before now,” former Chelsea striker Chris Sutton said on Sunday. “I think he deserved a start earlier and he must be undroppable on the basis of today’s performance.”
Another former Chelsea player in Joe Cole was also impressed, commenting: “We can’t wait another three years to see him in an England shirt.”
And similar words were shared by ex-Manchester United and Leicester man Dion Dublin, who noted: “I’m pleased for James Maddison. He has deserved a start, he’s been brilliant at Leicester and it’s something different for us all to watch in an England shirt.”
England in pole position
England have already overcome two of the most difficult obstacles in their Euro 2024 qualifying group, firstly defeating Italy away and now beating Ukraine.
The Three Lions sit top of Group C with their perfect record, with matches against Malta away and North Macedonia at home up next this summer.
Happy with that one, @Madders10 🤝 pic.twitter.com/IkHVLwXyID
— England (@England) March 26, 2023