England’s James Maddison: Casino visit fallout ‘ridiculous’

James Maddison has described the fallout from his infamous casino trip in 2019 as “ridiculous” and insisted his England career did not stall as a result of his relationship with manager Gareth Southgate.

The Leicester City midfielder was photographed at a poker table in a casino on the night of England’s defeat to the Czech Republic in October 2019, only to be called up from the squad three days before Maddison’s match.

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Maddison made his debut again in November that year as a second-half substitute against Montenegro, but was not included in another England squad for three years until he was 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 come up and I’m glad you asked because people forget I was actually held by Gareth Southgate and spoke after the Casino incident. It wasn’t because it was a big deal for Gareth at the time.

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“It was blown out of proportion and some of it was actually ridiculous for what happened, but that’s in the past.

“I don’t need to go into detail because we know what it was at home. Then it wasn’t a big deal. Like I said, people who always say I really cap after that incident. [things about the casino incident] I keep looking for excuses as to why I’m not in the squad but honestly I’m not.

“We had already talked about it, put it to bed, and then I was called and put the hat on. It was never a problem. I think it was extraneous noise from you.

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“Anyone who knows me, the kind of person I am and how I am as a player, I always try to be respectful, very professional and carry myself with things. I don’t feel like I’m misunderstood.

“Sitting here today, 25-year-old James Madison, a father, would say to 20-year-old James Madison: ‘It probably wasn’t the best idea to do it.’

“But it’s all part of learning and part of gaining experience. Maybe that’s why I have a thick skin and the little things that happened in the past have more experience to talk to you about now.”

Maddison revealed he was inspired by Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes in his pursuit of goals in 2022, amassing 24 Premier League goals in 2022 — bettered only by Harry Kane, Kevin De Bruyne and Son Heung-min.

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“In my head, I’m still that little boy kicking a ball in the garden with his face painted on.

“I don’t think I’m a role model for myself now, maybe when I was younger. I admire all the good players in the Premier League and I try to get things from the players wherever I can. I often look up to the players. My position.

“A couple of seasons ago when I was thinking ‘how do I get my goals’ and I wasn’t in the squad, Bruno Fernandes was doing really 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 the time. ‘How does he score so many goals’ and what scores am I not doing?”

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