James Maddison discusses scoring against Ipswich, his rise at Norwich and his Premier League ambitions.
James Maddison has developed a knack for scoring big goals on big occasions.
Perhaps the biggest of the lot so far was the winner against Ipswich in October. Now, with the East Anglian derby set to be played again this Sunday – live on Sky Sports Football – Maddison can relive that day with a smile on his face.
“That was the first big derby I’d played,” he said. “There was a big build-up to it and it was live on Sky.
“There was definitely a different feeling to it, it didn’t feel like a normal Championship game. But to score the winner with my family in the crowd and to send the Norwich fans home happy was something I’m really proud of.”
Maddison has scored nine times in the Sky Bet Championship this season, and his goals rarely go to waste. Four of them so far have been the only goal in a 1-0 win, and two of those – including his effort at Brentford in January – have been special enough to see him pick up the Goal of the Month award. He has been the shining light during an indifferent season at Carrow Road.
Unsurprisingly there were Premier League clubs sniffing around the 21-year-old in January, but the player who came through the ranks at Coventry and spent time on loan at Aberdeen last season has always craved first-team action over the comfort of a big Academy.
Norwich's James Maddison has won the Sky Bet Championship Goal of the Month award for January
“I started lower down the leagues with Coventry, so I’d had that taste of first-team action at a young age,” he said. “I’d already played 40 or 50 games before moving on and when I got to Norwich I had to bide my time at the start.
“I asked the manager [Alex Neil] if I could go on loan because I’m the type of footballer who loves playing and I don’t want to be sat on the bench or in the stands.
“I was still only 19 when I went to Scotland but it was a good loan move for me to play those extra games. I really enjoyed that and I’m reaping the rewards of it now.”
While Neil decided he wasn’t yet ready for the Championship, new boss Daniel Farke had different ideas, immediately throwing him in for the first game of the season.
Maddison is an extremely confident young player and always had faith in his own ability, but still knows he owes the German a lot for giving him the chance.
Norwich vs Ipswich
February 18, 2018, 11:30am
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“I knew I was capable of playing in the Championship and proving myself, but I needed a manager to give me the opportunity,” said Maddison. “[Farke] did on the first day of the season and I haven’t looked back.
“I came back to pre-season in good shape and he liked the way I was playing and I think I impressed him. He’s definitely improved my game in and out of possession.”
If Maddison’s rise continues then it will get harder and harder for Norwich to bat away suitors. Sooner or later he will be in the Premier League. Luckily for the club, he is in no rush to move just yet.
“My ambition is to play in the Premier League, like every player,” he said. “But I’m at the stage of my career now where I’m happy to be playing games.
“It’s about showing the world what I can do at this level at the moment, and hopefully I can play at the top of the game whenever I get there.”
Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Derby and Norwich
But is it too late for Norwich to aim for those heights this season? The club are eight points off the top six heading into the weekend, and it will take an incredible surge to force their way in. Maddison, however, retains hope.
“We’re on a good run,” he said. “There’s a good feeling in the group but we’re still eight points off. We have to take every game as it comes and see what shape the table takes towards the business end of the season.
“Hopefully we can be there or thereabouts, and if we keep within touching distance we might still have a chance.”
Don’t miss the Sky Bet Championship clash between Norwich and Ipswich on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Football and Main Event from 11.30am