Creative Soccer Culture

In Conversation | James Maddison At LDN19

James Maddison is a man on the rise. Last season he was the highest chance creator in all of Europe's 5 biggest leagues, as well as being the first English player to create more than 100 chances in a season since Leighton Baines in 2012/13. Now the Leicester City man gears up for that all-important second season, looking, as he always does, to better his previous accomplishments.

Ahead of the 2019/20 season kick off, we caught up with Maddison at the Rinse FM X PUMA Football collaboration hosted at Pro:Direct’s LDN19 store. Sitting down for a mellow moment in the madness, we chatted about everything from his tastes in fashion and music to his mental approach to the new season. It’s safe to say that having talked with him and experienced his great character and focus first hand, we certainly wouldn’t bet against him bettering last season's stats and then some. Maddison’s a man on a mission.

First up James, you’ve obviously had a fairly busy summer with internationals, but how was your break?

Yeah it was nice. It’s always nice to get a break. During the season you just live and breath football, sleep, eat football. So it’s nice to get a little bit of downtime in the summer. It was obviously limited this year because of the European Championships, but that’s fine. As soon as I started to see all the pictures of the lads coming back for training, I just wanted to come back myself. Short break, but enjoyable and deserved. Ready to go again now though.


Do you get itchy feet then in that respect?

Yeah definitely. I have a couple of weeks and then I’m ready to come back. You need to let your body recharge because it’s been a long season, but yeah, I was ready to come back. As soon as I saw the Leicester City Instagram with the lads back out on the training pitch shooting and stuff I just couldn’t wait. I’ve enjoyed a great pre-season and now we’re almost at the start of the Premier League, so I can’t wait.

It looked like you had a good time out in the States and you looked on point. Where do you go to pick out your wears and your attire for the summer?

I always check out fashion pages on Instagram. I like my clothes and I like keeping up with fashions. I tend to follow a lot of different brands and stuff like that. I’m constantly seeing different outfits when I’m checking my phone. Always new stuff, new trainers, and I always try to stay up to date.

Your character comes out a lot on your instagram account. Obviously football is the main focus, but have you got more and more into the way that you dress and that kind of thing?

Yeah, I think as I’ve got older. I enjoy that side of it, I enjoy buying trainers and collecting trainers, that sort of stuff. The way I see it, if you look good you feel good, and if you feel good, you play good.

If me expressing myself in how I play and what I wear is going to influence someone younger to be themselves and show their personality, then that’s my job done."

You’re part of a group of players coming through that have got a really strong mix of fashion tastes. People like Dom Calvert-Lewin and Tom Davies. While other people might question what you're wearing, do you feel good and get confidence from it?

Absolutely. You just need to be yourself. Wear what you want to wear. Obviously Tom Davies is a very good example of that. You look at his Instagram and some people will be like, ‘what is he wearing?’. But do you know what? It’s just him, and that’s how everyone should be. If I want to wear something that’s a bit out there because I like it then I should, because that’s just me. 

It’s not that I want to stand out, though. I just wear what I like to wear. If I see something that I like then I’ll buy it and wear it. If people want to talk about it then they can talk about it, but I’ll always have a smile on my face.

It can be quite empowering, to show people expressing themselves...

Exactly. One of the things you need to show in yourself is personality; you never want to have a lack of personality off the pitch and on the pitch. I like to think that I play with personality and then off the pitch carry myself with personality. I’m always smiling and I like to think that if people met me for the first time then they’d think that I had a nice personality. And that comes from playing football, what I’m wearing, anything like that. It all fits into the same.

Do you see the way you and your generation are expressing yourself as giving more confidence to the next generation?

If me expressing myself in how I play and what I wear is going to influence someone younger to be themselves and show their personality, then that’s my job done.

When you were growing up, who did you look up to and admire, either on the pitch or off the pitch?

Cristiano’s always been a big figure. I used to support United back when he was a main figure of the team. How he carried himself on the pitch and off the pitch – he was the swag man! He’s someone that I’ve always looked up to.


Music is obviously big for you too. Can you tell us a little about your tastes?

I have such a variety of tastes in music. If you shuffled all my songs in my car you’d go from Gunna and Lil Baby to Enrique Inglesias. I like all sorts of music. I even like country music. Acoustic music. I like it all. Tom Grennan’s good, I like his music. 

Do you enjoy going to watch music live?

Yeah, I’ve been to see Ed Sheeran a couple of times, seen Tom a couple of times. I love watching music live. You get such a buzz off of actually going to a concert or a gig or whatever. It doesn’t always fit in with the football schedule, because we have to get a lot of rest, but if I ever get the opportunity in my spare time then I try to go.

Can you see the comparison that’s made between a musician going out on stage and a footballer going out on to the pitch?

Yeah, definitely. You’ve got to go out and perform. It’s no different. Singers will feel pressure and footballers feel pressure. But you go out on to your platform and you perform for the people watching.

Switching over as we head into the new season then, what’s on your playlist before you head out on the pitch?

That can vary again. I’d say for the opening weekend of the Premier League season I’ll be listening to more hip hop, more upbeat stuff instead of Tom Grennan. That’s a bit more mellow. I’m actually one of the guys that doesn’t mind listening to a bit of slow music before a game. Most people like to listen to fast tempo music to get them pumped for the game, but I don’t mind sitting with my headphones in listening to chilled music. If I’m in charge of the speakers though I’ll put on some faster, hip-hop and stuff.

So you’re the man in charge of the tunes in the dressing room?

We don’t have a set DJ, we take it in turns, but I’m always front of the queue to get my phone plugged in. I like to think I can cater for all departments in the changing room; the foreign boys, the older lads, the younger lads.

Have you ever put something on that’s got a reaction that you didn’t expect?

Kasper Schmeichel and me are both big fans of Westlife. Big Westlife fans. So when I go to put a Westlife song on through the speakers, I’ll have people saying “what’s this?” Here’s what it is: “You Raise Me Up.”

Maddison 2-min.jpg
Everyone has a different pathway and that’s mine and I’m proud of it."

On the pitch then, how’s your mentality going into the new season and how does this one differ?

Same mentality: tunnel vision. I’ve just got to go better than what I’ve done before. I’ve always tried to do that and that’s where I set my bar high from last year on top of the season I had, but I know I’ve got more gears to go. Pre-season is done now and we’ve got our first game of the season on Sunday, so I’m really looking forward to it.

You achieved so many personal milestones last year. Does that set you up in a good way, so you know what’s possible?

Yeah, and the best thing about it is, it’s obviously really flattering and nice to hear people saying all these things, but I know I’ve got more gears to go. It was a good season, I was happy with it, now I’ve had a nice break and I’m ready to go again.

How high do you set your personal standards? You’ve now played against the best in the Premier League…

My dream was always to play in the Premier League, and you can ask anyone I know, I always said that from a young age. Even when I was on loan at Aberdeen in Scotland my dreams never changed. There were hard times, when I had to go out on loan and when I wasn’t getting into the squad at Norwich, but my dreams always stayed the same.

Just touching on those days when you were on loan, do you ever think back now and think how far you’ve come?

Yeah, I’ll never forget them. They’re part of what’s made me the person and the player that I am today. I moved to Norwich on Deadline day from Coventry, my home town club who I had always played for. In Coventry I was living with my Mum and Dad, I was 18, 19 years old. On Deadline day I think the deal went through at 10:58pm, two minutes before the deadline. Then I went back on loan to Coventry the next day, so I hadn’t even been to Norwich yet. Went to Norwich the next season but the manager told me I wasn’t going to play because there were players ahead of me so I had to go to Scotland and live away from home. Moments like that I’ll never forget, but that’s what made me the person and the player that I am today. Everyone has a different pathway and that’s mine and I’m proud of it.

Photography by Josh Atkins for SoccerBible.

Pick up the PUMA ONE 5.1 at

Daniel Jones

The Creative Soccer Culture Brief

Sign up to our newsletter and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the world of Creative Soccer Culture.