James Maddison: 'I love football and just wanted to be back in the England squad'
James Maddison and Bukayo Saka discuss England's win over Ukraine
James Maddison admits it has been hard having to watch England from his sitting room in recent years but is hoping he is now firmly in Gareth Southgate’s plans after making his first start against Ukraine.
Maddison made his England senior team debut as a substitute in the EURO 2020 qualifying win over Montenegro in November 2019.
But the creative midfielder ended up missing out on several Three Lions camps and EURO 2020 before being selected for the World Cup squad in November last year.
Maddison did not feature in any of the matches in Qatar, having been selected off the back of an injury, but his consistent performances for Leicester City resulted in a second England senior team cap on Sunday evening at Wembley Stadium connected by EE.
"It almost feels like a second debut, it was so long ago,” Maddison said.
"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.”
Whilst England were not at their fluid attacking best against Ukraine, Maddison was part of a side that created a number of dangerous opportunities and never looked like losing on Sunday evening.
"I did alright. I will be critical when I watch it back, I always am,” Maddison continued.
"Gareth said there's no point going to Italy and winning if we come back here and lose this game.
"It has been a brilliant start to qualification, and I'll take this form back to Leicester.
"I don't listen to the media, it's just about if Gareth selects me. I knew I could change his mind by playing well for Leicester.
"I think the World Cup was important for me. Even though I didn't play and I was struggling with injury, I was able to be a good egg around the camp and wasn't down. I supported the lads and that puts me in good stead with the manager."
Whilst Maddison was one of England’s better performers against Ukraine, the Player of the Match award went to Bukayo Saka.
The Arsenal star created the opening goal for Harry Kane before scoring a stunning second with a smart turn and long-range strike.
Saka said: "That was definitely up there [with my best goals for England]. As soon as it left my foot, I knew it would be on target, so it was one of my better goals. Jordan Henderson gave it to me and I knew straight away I was going to shoot.
"I think it was an excellent team performance and a quick turnaround from the last game. We're happy with the three points.
"I felt I was getting the ball in good positions and having dangerous attacks for the team, so I was happy with my performance.
"Some of the lads wanted to get on the scoresheet. [James Maddison] had an amazing performance and deserved to score.
"I think we've been really mature. We can't just look past these games and magically be in the EUROs. We have to qualify first.
"Football is fun and it's always fun. I just hope the happiness can continue to the end of the season."
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