Norwich sporting director Stuart Webber has claimed that he knew within two days of joining the club that James Maddison would be an England international.
Webber took up his role at the Canaries back in April 2017, having previously worked at QPR, Wolves and Huddersfield.
Maddison himself had only been at the club for just over a year at that point, and had been sent out on loan to Coventry and Aberdeen within his first 12 months at Norwich.
He clearly made an impression on Webber, though, who knew almost immediately that Maddison was something special.
Speaking on the High Performance Podcast – who GIVEMESPORT has an exclusive partnership with – Webber explained how he was regularly reporting back to the club’s owners, and told them about Maddison’s talent very early on.
Webber said: “I never lie to them. I will be bold with them, though. So, I remember James Maddison was a player here. I’d been here two days and I said to them, ‘we’ve got one player here who’ll end up playing for England.’
“I hadn’t even seen him play at that point. I’m like: ‘he’ll play for England. We’ve now got to figure out a way of getting him through.’ And obviously he’s gone on and done alright.”
Webber was spot on with his assessment, and some would argue that Maddison has done more than “alright” in the years that have followed.
In 2018, he secured a move to Leicester for £22.5m, and he has only got better from there. In his maiden Premier League campaign, he registered 14 goal contributions and it became clear that an England cap was on the horizon.
It duly arrived in November 2019, when he got over half an hour off the bench against Montenegro in a 7-0 win for the Three Lions.
He has been unable to add to that appearance since, but his performances this year have put him back in the mix for an England recall ahead of this summer’s Euros.
The 24-year-old had eight goals and seven assists to his name in the top-flight in 2020/21 prior to Friday night’s clash with Southampton, numbers which are likely to have caught the eye of Gareth Southgate.
Webber’s admission reveals something intriguing about high performance – that it can be identified straight away.
For some, their talent may be less obvious, and it could take a while for them to be spotted, but with Maddison his ability was noted by Webber from the outset, and the Leicester man has gone on to prove his instincts were correct.
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