James Maddison has described the fallout from his infamous casino visit in 2019 as “ridiculous” and insisted his England career did not stall as a result of a breakdown in relations with manager Gareth Southgate.
The Leicester City midfielder was pictured by a poker table in a casino on the night England lost to the Czech Republic in October 2019, a match for which Maddison was called-up for only to leave the squad having contracted flu three days before the game.
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Maddison was selected again in November that year, making his debut as a second-half substitute against Montenegro, but did not feature in another England squad for three years until being named in Southgate’s 26-man squad for the World Cup finals in Qatar.
Asked about how the incident impacted his international prospects, Maddison said: “I thought that might get brought up and I’m actually glad you asked because people forget I was actually capped by Gareth Southgate and called up after the casino incident and it wasn’t a big deal at the time for Gareth.
“It got blown out of proportion and some of it was ridiculous for what actually happened but that’s in the past.
“I don’t want to go into the details because we know in-house what it was and it wasn’t a big deal then. Like I said, I was actually capped after that incident so people who often say [things about the casino incident] are looking for an excuse for me why I’m not in the squad but that’s not the case to be honest.
“We had already spoken about it, put it to bed and I was called up and capped after that. That was never a concern. That was more outside noise from you lot I think.
“Anyone who knows me, the type of person I am and how I am as a player, I always try and carry myself with respect, very professional and stuff. I don’t feel like I’m misunderstood.
“Sitting here today, 25-year-old James Maddison who is a father would probably say to 20-year-old James Maddison: ‘Probably not the best idea to do that.’
“But that’s all part of learning and all part of getting experience. That’s probably why I’m thicker-skinned and more experienced to talk to you now because of little things that have happened in the past.”
Maddison revealed he took inspiration from Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes in attempts to add goals to his game, having racked up 24 Premier League goal involvements in 2022 — a figure only surpassed by Harry Kane, Kevin De Bruyne and Son Heung-Min.
“In my head, I’m still that little boy who’s kicking the ball around in the garden with face paint on,” he said.
“I don’t think there is a player I model myself on now, maybe when I was younger. I appreciate all the good players in the Premier League and try to take stuff from players wherever I can. I’m often watching players in my position.
“A couple of seasons ago when I thought to myself ‘how can I score my goals’ and I wasn’t in the squad, Bruno Fernandes was playing very well for Man Utd and putting up ridiculous numbers in terms of goals and assists.
“So I probably watched him a little bit closer at that time. ‘How is he scoring so many goals’ and what runs is he making that I’m not?’”