James Maddison says he’s buzzing about getting his first taste of an international tournament at the U21 Euro Finals this month.
The Leicester City midfielder is one of only a handful of players in Aidy Boothroyd’s squad who hasn’t featured in the final stages of a competition so far in his career.
But he’s keen to make up for that in Italy, as the Young Lions prepare to open their campaign against France on Tuesday evening with the end goal of silverware in mind for the former Coventry City youngster.
“I’m so excited, I’ve been looking forward to this for ages,” said Maddison from England’s base in Cesena.
“I’ve never actually played an international tournament before. I’ve played in qualifying, international friendlies and stuff but not a tournament at this level.
“So it’s new to me, but I’m raring! The challenge that we face trying to win it drives me on that extra few per cent.
“Some of the other lads have had success in tournaments, but my trophy cabinet is empty at the minute.
“I have a few individual ones in there but there are no winners' medals so I’m desperate to go and win.
“I want to be a winner. At the end of your career you look back I think: ‘Yeah, ok, a few man of the matches here and a player of the season there’ but football is a team game and I want to have winners’ medals at the end of that.”
Maddison first broke into the U21s squad in November 2017, after catching Boothroyd’s eye during an impressive campaign with Norwich City.
He featured throughout the qualifying campaign as England comfortably secured their spot in the Finals before making his domestic switch to Leicester City last summer.
His form with the Foxes in what was his first campaign in the Premier League saw him picked for Gareth Southgate’s senior squad last year, although he’s still waiting to make his senior bow.
And while that remains his long-term objective, Maddison is more than happy to show what he can do this summer before pushing again next term.
“You’re playing for your country and you can never take that for granted at any level,” said Maddison.
“People ask me what do you think about not getting called to the seniors...I don't care, when I put that badge on I want to go and win this tournament, and the lads feel that as a group.
“We know we have a good squad, good players, regulars in the Premier League, but that doesn't mean anything in tournament football.
“We have to take our game plan, two years of qualifying, to this tournament and give everything. We have worked hard to get to this stage, it can't go out of the window.”
It all starts on Tuesday evening, when the Young Lions meet the French and Maddison admits they are prepared for what he expects will be the toughest of openers.
“France are a brilliant team and we’ve done all our homework on them as much as we can,” he revealed.
“We’ve done their strengths and weaknesses, as we will with all our opponents, but they are a very strong outfit.
“We’ll have to be at our best, but that does not take away the fact that we’ve got a brilliant team as well, full of talent, full of legs and full of character. We’ll go into the game wanting to win it and have the confidence.
“We have to be better than France. We’ve had training games which have helped and have done a lot of game stuff in training putting ourselves in situations we will be in in the tournament.
“There’s a good feel about the camp and I’m confident we can beat France and do well in the next two games.”
You can watch all of England’s games at the U21 Euro Finals live on Sky Sports Football.