Leicester’s Brendan Rodgers defends James Maddison over casino visit

• Midfielder visited casino after being released from England duty
• ‘Stories about his arrogance and mentality – they’re totally false’

Brendan Rodgers has defended the character of James Maddison and expressed concern that a committed young professional is being wrongly portrayed.

The Leicester manager said Maddison made a mistake by going to a casino last week after being released from England duty on account of illness but he said the visit was entirely innocent and suggestions that Maddison is too fond of the high life are “totally false”.

Maddison was photographed at a poker table in a Leicester casino on the night England lost to Czech Republic, a match for which Maddison was called up before coming down with flu three days prior to the game and being sent home.

Rodgers explained the player went there to watch the second half of the England match, having watched the first half at home alone; he could not go to his parents to watch the second half because they were in the Czech Republic after booking tickets in the hope of watching their son make his international debut. “What was portrayed in an article in the press wasn’t quite how it was,” said Rodgers.

“The kid went away with the international team and took ill while he was away. He wanted to stay and hopefully be ready for the second game. But the England medical staff – which I can understand, as he had flu and they didn’t want that to spread to his teammates – decided it’s best for him to leave the camp. So he leaves, gets some tablets with our guys at the club, then he feels better.

“He watched the game at home on his own on the Friday and then goes out at half-time – probably he’ll make better decisions in his life but he went to a casino on his own to sit and watch the second half by a poker table. The suggestions are he left England purposelessly and then goes to a casino but that’s totally not the case at all. But his eyes have been opened now to the wider world in terms of what he did. He knows in hindsight he’s made a mistake.”

Rodgers said Maddison has learned it is best to keep a low profile if he wants to reach the heights to which he aspires. “Being a top player can be boring,” said Rodgers. “It’s systematic. It’s in every day, it’s preparing, it’s getting home, it’s resting, it’s sleeping, it’s recovering, it’s playing. If he gets to the level where he’s hopefully going to be here, where he’s playing European football, you can be playing 50-60 games a season, plus internationals. You’ve got to be ready for that, and that’s just a systematic approach of the game. He will learn from it and I think it’s maybe the first blow he’s had as a young player coming through because everything has been good for him, but he is a learner and he will be better for it.”

The manager is concerned that the criticism of the casino visit came in the wake of tut-tutting about other decisions made by Maddison: last month The Sun carried a report about him buying a very expensive bag, while in August Jeremy Clarkson felt the need to denounce his hairstyle on social media.

These are the offerings that Rodgers may have had in mind when he complained about the creation of a false impression of the 22-year-old. He warned against “killing the spirit” of youngsters who play with panache.

“People make judgments on players and people without even knowing them,” said Rodgers. “This is a player about whom I’ve seen various stories in the last few months about his arrogance and his mentality – and they’re totally false. I’m not sure where they’re coming from but it’s not what this boy is about. He’s a very talented player and he has a belief in his ability.

“He’s a good young guy and what you don’t want to do is kill the spirit of these really talented players. You certainly don’t want an England squad full of stiff players. You look at these players with personality. He is one who wants to improve and wants to develop. He doesn’t feel entitled. He doesn’t feel entitled but he’s got his head down and worked harder and hopefully convinced people he can play.”


Paul Doyle

The GuardianTramp

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