James Maddison has opened up on how Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes helped inspire his form ahead of this winter's World Cup in Qatar.
The 25-year-old midfielder was named in Gareth Southgate's 26-man England squad earlier this month after a stellar start to the 2022/23 campaign at Leicester, where he has notched seven goals and four assists in the Premier League this season.
Southgate was all but complimentary about Maddison when he announced his inclusion. "He's playing exceptionally well, we like the fact he finds those pockets of space, he gets turned and plays forward," Southgate said. "Not enough players do that in this day and age."
He added: "His set-piece delivery is outstanding, and he can score goals from distance. Against low-block defences, that is another attribute which is a little bit different to some of our other players."
After being overlooked on a number of occasions at international level, Maddison, who bagged 18 goals and 12 assists last season, has since opened up on receiving a call-up.
As well as saying he used rejections as a constant source of motivation, the Coventry City youth product explained how Bruno Fernandes played a part in his recent journey.
“A couple of seasons ago, when I wasn’t in the England squad, Bruno Fernandes was playing very well for Manchester United and putting up ridiculous numbers in terms of goals and assists," he told reporters.
“So I probably watched him a bit closer at that time. ‘How is he scoring so many goals? What runs is he making that I’m not?’. If that makes me a student of the game, then that’s what I am.”
Fernandes has notched 53 goals and 42 assists since arriving at Old Trafford in the summer of 2020 from Sporting Lisbon.
Maddison also opened up on his obsession with football. “I watch every game," he said. "My house is football mad. My girlfriend goes crazy because I watch so much. During the lockdown, when there were four games a day, I had them all on.
“I don’t think that there is a player now that I model my game on – maybe when I was younger. I appreciate all the good players in the Premier League.
“I try and take something from each of the players I watch, whether they are a higher level, the same level or lower. If I’m watching a game on TV, I’m often watching players in my position.
“I’m a football man. I’ve said that many times. Because I just love the game. In my head, I’m still that little boy who is kicking the ball around in the garden on or with [England] face paint on.”
It hasn’t sunk in… I’m going to The World Cup😭 Dreams really do come true😢🏴🏆 pic.twitter.com/DeKTECv3XT— James Maddison (@Madders10) November 10, 2022
He added the England call-up was “a bit of a head on the wall moment” and an emotional call with his parents followed.
“My dad actually cried – and he is not a crier! I don’t think I have seen him cry for years,” he said in this week's press conference.
“They were happy tears, of course. Your family, your parents… they are on this journey with you, you know? When, in previous years, I have been left out of squads after I thought I might have had a chance and had that disappointment, it is spread across the family.
“Now it’s the opposite end of the scale with the happiness. It’s the same for them as well. On the day of the announcement, after training I wanted to go back and see them in Coventry.
“I had dinner at home with my mum and dad, my little boy and my partner. I wanted to see them. That’s a moment I will cherish forever. The phone call was a bit of a blur, I couldn’t tell you what Gareth said. It was a very heart in mouth moment.
“But I wanted to go back and see my mum and give her a big hug. It was a special day for all of us, one I will never forget.”
Featured Image Credit: Alamy/Instagram - brunofernandes8
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