James Maddison on 'surreal' World Cup call up and seeing dad in tears

ITV News Sport Editor Steve Scott reports on England's first training session in Qatar, as they aim for World Cup success.

Leicester City midfielder James Maddison said "every moment is a pinch me moment" as he takes part in his first ever major tournament with England at the Qatar World Cup.

Maddison, who was recalled to the Three Lions squad for the 2022 World Cup after only picking up one cap in 2019, said he never thought the door had been closed on his England career.

The England players trained earlier on Wednesday with Gareth Southgate, before Maddison took questions from the media.

Retelling the moment he found out he was part of the England squad heading to Qatar, Maddison said: “I was actually in Brendan Rodgers’ office earlier in the day and he asked me if I’d heard anything and I said no.

"He was just being a good man manager and putting his arm around me if I didn’t get the call.

"I went back down to the changing room afterwards and I had a missed call from Gareth Southgate and my heart started beating. I called him back and he gave me the good news.

"It was all a little bit of a blur, it was a head on the wall moment, a big deep breath and then I called my parents.”

“My Dad actually cried and he’s not a crier, I don’t think I’ve seen him cry in years. Happy tears of course.

"It was a special day for all of us and one I’ll never forget.”

James Maddison says being called up to the England squad for the World Cup was a "special day" for himself and his family.

Maddison said every experience with England since has been a "pinch me moment" and it was "all a bit surreal".

England flew out to Qatar on Tuesday, as they prepare to kick off Group B against Iran next Monday.

25-year-old midfielder Maddison said he had a scan and the slight injury he picked up with Leicester was of "no concern". He added he would be ready for Monday's game if called upon.

ITV News Sport Editor Steve Scott asked how playing in the first ever mid-season World Cup would affect players, to which Maddison replied: “In the last tournament there were 28 sessions from the lead up to the first game, whereas this time there will be four or five.

"It’s different, but it’s new to everyone.

"The good thing is that a lot of the lads have been playing and are in good form and getting regular minutes of club football, so it’s not like they’ll need lots of time to get up to speed.

"It’s probably more important that we hit the ground running as we don’t have as much time to prepare.

"In an ideal world you’d want a long buildup. It probably helps mentally that we’re straight in and there’s no overthinking to do.”

ITV News Chloe Keedy reports as Qatar prepares to welcome millions of World Cup fans to the country.

Meanwhile, after England's 2018 World Cup and Euro 2020 emotional disappointments, Maddison said the Three Lions can "hopefully" win the tournament.

“We know the expectations are high and in the last two tournaments we’ve been absolutely brilliant.

"Semi-finals and then a final - there’s only one step further that you can go and that’s winning it.

"So [England fans] are right to have high expectations and we’ve got a brilliant group so hopefully we can go all the way.

"There was a feel about the Euros and at Russia, the togetherness was there to see.

"Meeting up in the first few days, it’s been the same thing. There’s a really good energy.”

The Qatar World Cup has been surrounded by controversy, after the host nation was criticised for its treatment of migrant workers and issues surrounding human rights.

Asked about what players though about the illegality of homosexuality in Qatar, Maddison said: “We’re aware of the problems and the issues here.

"We’re people who stand for diversity and inclusivity.

"That’s all I’ll say on that as I don’t think I’m educated enough to make a comment and don’t want to say something that’s a bit wrong."

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