Canaries boss 'proud' to see Godfrey and Maddison doing so well
- Credit: PA
Daniel Farke hopes the current Premier League success of Ben Godfrey and James Maddison will help to build Norwich City's reputation as one of the top clubs for youth development - as both players chase England call-ups.
Godfrey quickly earned the trust of Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti following his summer move in a deal which could eventually be worth a reported £25million, and has been a regular starter in a variety of defensive positions.
The 23-year-old has become a firm favourite with Toffees fans and started at centre-back as the Merseyside derby was won 2-0 at Anfield on Saturday, with images of his passionate celebrations against reigning champions Liverpool and a thunderous tackle on Xherdan Shaqiri going viral on social media.
City signed Godfrey from York in January 2016 in a £1m deal, the same month they signed Maddison from Coventry for around £2.5m. In the summer of 2018 a brilliant Championship season saw the playmaker sold to Leicester in a club-record deal worth a reported initial £21m.
Ever since, Maddison has become an established top-level force for the Foxes and with 11 goals and 10 assists from 32 games so far this season, the midfielder looks on course to add to his solitary senior England cap.
“I’m delighted for them because they are brilliant lads, fantastic characters," Farke said of the former Canaries duo. "Sometimes when you have a little bit of time on the sofa you watch a little bit.
“James Maddison, when I came here, it was a discussion that he had been out on loan before to Aberdeen and should we loan him out because the Championship is a bit too soon for him. We got the feeling, no, we want to improve him and want to bring him forward. The same with Ben Godfrey.
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“When I came in we had already sent him out on loan to Shrewsbury and he was a midfield player. We got the feeling that we would make a centre-back or full-back out of him and right now it is in this role that he is playing and shining a lot.
“But I’m not proud of my work, I’m just proud of them because you can bring a young player to the door and try to work with him, to develop him and to improve him but they have to take the step through the door.
“It’s totally up to Ben and James to get to the next step but it is also good that we produce such talents and that many of the best clubs in the world know that young players are in good hands at Norwich City.
“That’s quite good for our reputation and quite good for our development as a club as well. Sadly Ben and James are not my players anymore and I am also looking forward to the moment when we are able to keep these type of quality players.
“But they had outgrown the club a little bit, we had to accept this and hopefully one day we are capable to have this type of player for a bit longer in a Norwich shirt.”
Godfrey has been speaking about Farke's decision to convert him into a defender this week, speaking on the Rio Ferdinand Presents Five show on YouTube.
The 23-year-old talked about being released by Middlesbrough at 14 and being turned down by Leeds, Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday after trials, before returning to York City to make his initial breakthrough in the senior ranks.
“I was a destroyer, holding midfield, just getting about and smashing people left, right and centre in midfield," he joked, speaking to former England and Manchester United defender Ferdinand, who mentors him through their links to the same agency.
“I was even a midfielder when I went on loan from Norwich to Shrewsbury. It was only when I came back from the loan that the manager said he thought I’d be a better centre-back and said I’d take off if I stepped back into that centre-back role.
“I was 20. The way he said it, I felt like 'I’m going to trust his opinion here’ because he said you’ll play ‘there’ as a centre midfielder (holding his hand in one position) but there at centre-back (moving his hand to a higher level) and playing as high as possible is what I wanted to do.
“So I just trusted his opinion. It’s a risk and some players might not do it, some people might be like ‘no chance, I’m being a centre midfielder’ and I’ll go out on loan to do it, or somewhere else.
“But I just trusted his opinion because I wanted to play in that team and I just thought I’d go with it and try to improve my game at centre-back.
“I knew I had some attributes that would work playing there so, yeah, it worked out alright.”
- You can watch the latest Rio Ferdinand Presents Five show in the video above
Godfrey's impressive first season at Everton, on the back of his first full Premier League season with Norwich which ended in relegation, has seen him mentioned in some national media outlets as an England senior option ahead of the European Championship.
Asked by Ferdinand, who earned 81 England caps, about that prospect the U21 international said: “I think it would be strange for us to sit here and say ‘nah, we don’t want to be in there’, as that would be mad, but all we can do is play well consistently and keep trying to improve.
“At the end of the day selection is out of our hands so all we can do is play to the best of our ability and keep doing well, then see what happens from there.
“But of course every young English player has got their eyes set on breaking through to that squad at some point.”