James Maddison was delighted to earn his ‘second debut’ for England after running into difficulties during the World Cup in Qatar.
The Leicester City midfielder’s second game for the Three Lions came three and a half years after his international debut, with no opportunities during that time as he faced huge competition for a place in the team.
Maddison shone against Ukraine at Wembley, creating five chances – more than any other player in their first match for England since Theo Walcott created six against Andorra in September 2008.
When Maddison made his England debut, feeling like it was “a lifetime ago”, Maddison enjoyed his second stint with the national team.
“It was wonderful. I said there that it’s almost like a second debut. Like it really doesn’t work. But that was so long ago,” he told reporters.
“It seems like a lifetime has passed since that Montenegro again. So it almost felt like an afterthought, it was really good there.
“It’s so refreshing to be there with the guys, on a strong team and a big game. So I really enjoyed it.”
Maddison’s hopes to feature for England at the World Cup in Qatar were severely affected after he suffered an injury prior to the tournament, leaving him to struggle for fitness in his quest to play.
5 – James Maddison created five chances today, the most for a player in his first @England men’s start after Theo Walcott’s match against Andorra in September 2008 (6). Demand. pic.twitter.com/9wpMfQ1EBI
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 26, 2023
The Leicester City player was given no minutes in the tournament, who detailed the struggles he endured while campaigning for England.
“I felt like there were a lot of falls and there were a lot of sad, sad faces when I was alone in my room,” he explained.
“Just thought, ‘Why now this little injury, why? Why in the West Ham game I got it just before the World Cup, after working so hard to get to a position where everyone was demanding me to be in the team.
“And I worked so hard and my performances were really good. So it’s been a tough time in the gym in Qatar, at home on FaceTime, just sad, but it was almost like a battle with myself to say, “Don’t take it for granted.”
“I may not be able to get rid of this injury, but it will serve me well if I show Gareth and show people who doubt my identity off the field that or whatever it is is all nonsense and that I can be a good person.
“We have such a good group and I get along so well with the guys and the staff, and that’s what you see from the outside, that’s how it is.
“The unity and cheerful nature of the energy around the camp. So I hoped that things like this would serve me well.”