James Maddison can finally see the light after revealing that his absence through injury at the end of last season was the darkest moment of his career.
Without Maddison for most of the post-lockdown period, due to a hip problem that required surgery, Leicester somehow allowed themselves to be overhauled by Chelsea and Manchester United for a place in the top four — meaning they missed out on Champions League football this season.
The midfielder is yet to start a Premier League game this campaign and suffered a calf injury while fighting to regain fitness. But after a goal and impressive performance in the 3-0 Europa League victory over Zorya Luhansk, Maddison is pushing hard to start at Arsenal on Saturday.
James Maddison is hoping to hit the big time again with Leicester after regaining fitness
‘The end of last season was really frustrating, a horrible time — one of the worst of my career,’ he said.
‘You can be fragile when you’re injured. You can overthink every little thing and take it home with you. Life can be tough as what you love has been taken away. I play well under pressure and put a lot of pressure on myself.
‘I don’t just do this as a job. I love every detail about football, so being out of the game was really tough. I like to think of myself as a big player in this team and big players are needed in big games.
The playmaker spent the end of last season and the start of the current campaign watching on
‘At the end of last season the games didn’t come much bigger, fighting for the Champions League spaces — which at one point looked like we were a certainty to make.
‘Then this season, I had a calf injury that only kept me out for 10 days. But the week before I’d scored against Manchester City and we’d won 5-2, so to miss out on the next game against West Ham and international selection was a mental challenge.’
During the summer, Maddison delivered a significant boost to Leicester by signing a new four-year deal worth around £100,000 a week.
The 23-year-old has long been admired by Manchester United but is convinced he can fulfil his ambitions at the King Power Stadium.
And Maddison revealed that boss Brendan Rodgers is using Sevilla’s victory in the Europa League last season to motivate his players.
Maddison showed his capabilities after dazzling in the victory over Manchester City
He said: ‘The manager showed us a one-minute clip of Sevilla lifting the trophy and the emotion they had, players crying on the pitch, gave me goosebumps because that’s the feeling we want.
‘At the end of my career I want trophies on my mantelpiece and, with the squad we have, we have a realistic chance.
‘Last year we lost to Villa in the Carabao Cup semi-final and I won’t forget how I felt after that game. We conceded late on in the second leg and all the Villa fans ran on to the pitch.
‘I was so devastated because I wanted to get to Wembley and play in a final so badly. It made me realise how hungry I am to win trophies.’