James Maddison has described the fallout from his famous casino visit in 2019 as “absurd” and insists his England career has not been stalled by a rift with manager Gareth Southgate.
The Leicester City midfielder was pictured by a casino poker table on the night England lost to the Czech Republic in October 2019, a game in which Maddison was called up only to leave the squad after contracting 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 how the incident affected his international prospects, Maddison said: “I thought it might be brought up and I’m actually glad you asked because people forget I was actually restricted by Gareth Southgate and called up after the casino incident and it was ‘It’s a big deal. at that time for Gareth.
“It’s ridiculous and some of it is ridiculous for what actually happened but that’s in the past.
“I don’t want to go into details because we knew what it was internally and it wasn’t a big deal at the time. Like I said, I was actually restricted after that so people who often say [things about the casino incident] looking for excuses for me why I’m not in the squad but that’s not the case to be honest.
“We’ve already talked about it, put it to bed and I was called and restricted after that. That was never a concern. That’s more outside noise than you, 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 so on. I don’t think I’ve been misunderstood.
“Sitting here today, a 25-year-old James Maddison who is a father would probably say to a 20-year-old James Maddison: ‘It’s probably not the best idea to do that.’
“But that’s all part of learning and all part of gaining experience. That’s probably why I’m thicker and more experienced to talk to you now because of the little things that have happened in the past.”
Maddison revealed he took inspiration from Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes in his bid to add goals to his game, having recorded 24 Premier League involvements in 2022 — a figure only surpassed by Harry Kane, Kevin De Bruyne and Son Heung-Min.
“In my head, I’m still a little boy kicking a ball in the park with face paint,” he said.
“I don’t think there are any players I look up to now, maybe when I was younger. I appreciate all the good players in the Premier League and try to take things from them wherever I can. I often watch players in my position.
“A few seasons ago when I was thinking ‘how am I going to score’ and I wasn’t in the squad, Bruno Fernandes played really well for Man Utd and put up ridiculous numbers in terms of goals and assists.
“So I probably watched him more closely then. ‘How did he score so many goals’ and what runs did he make that I didn’t?'”