'The fans have been absolutely brilliant with me' - midfielder relishing City's exciting times
© Copyright Stephen Waller
There was no wiping the smile off James Maddison's face - both at his Sunday best and what comes next.
The City midfielder’s superbly taken Portman Road winner sent more than 2,000 fans home happy from Suffolk and delivered another tick for Daniel Farke’s squad, as they continue to state their intent for the rest of the campaign.
And with a Carabao Cup last 16 trip to Arsenal on Tuesday night (7.45pm), there’s plenty to get excited about.
“This goal just means so much to me and to know my family was in the crowd, such a massive game and live on telly – it’s just a special feeling and one I won’t forget,” said Maddison.
“I’ve scored a few on the telly actually; when I was up at Aberdeen as well. I’ve just got this knack and that’s probably one of the best I’ve got.
“The fans have been absolutely brilliant with me. I didn’t really get much game time last year but I was still getting nice messages and people were nice to me on the street. It’s just the little things like that you relish.
“And now I’m in the team, doing well and scoring goals, it’s just extra special to give something back to the fans that have supported me even when I wasn’t playing.
“Definitely, there’s that connection with all of us – the city and the fans. We’re in the top six now and we can only look forward.
“We have to keep taking it game by game. We know the Championship is a tough season but the end goal has got to be to stay in that top six come the end of the season. I’m pretty confident with the squad we have and if we keep at it, that we can do that.”
There’s no denying Maddison’s first East Anglian derby experience made its mark – even before he had kicked a ball at Portman Road.
“Definitely I felt the buzz around this game beforehand,” he said. “Honestly it’s hard to treat it as a normal game. You just feel the build-up.
“It’s different to any of the others. You only get three points for winning, you don’t get any more than that, but the build-up around the city and in the press, it makes it that extra special.
“Before the game, I just felt that me personally and the squad as a whole, we were that little bit more up for it. And I thought it showed on that performance.”
Something similar at The Emirates, and City’s season could step up another notch.
Maddison added: “I’m very excited about it. To be honest it’s probably one of the best grounds in the Premier League.
“It’s just such a special feeling about this game as well. Ipswich is a massive game for different reasons but Tuesday will be a little bit different. It’s the experience of playing at a top-flight ground against a top club.
“It’s going to be a special day out for the fans and myself, and we have to go into it with confidence high. We’re playing against a top side – but the way we’re playing at the minute and the belief that’s in the squad, we have to go there with full confidence to try to win.
“It’s a platform to showcase your ability and show the world what you can do on the biggest stage. And it’s an occasion to enjoy. I mean, we’re taking a massive load of fans and it’s going to be a brilliant day out for them and for us, to experience a stadium like that.
“But we will go there trying to win the game and I’m pretty confident with the group we have that we can do that.”