The high standards James Maddison continues to maintain has seen a meteoric rise from the lower spectrum of the Football League to Premier League stardom.
The Leicester City playmaker scored seven goals and provided seven assists in 35 league appearances last season – his first in the top flight since a £24m move from Norwich last summer.
The 22-year-old was the only player to create 100 goalscoring chances in the Premier League in 2018/19, the first English player to reach a century or more since Leighton Baines six years earlier.
That impressive run of form has seen Maddison linked with a move away from the King Power Stadium already, with Manchester United and Tottenham both huge admirers.
This comes as no surprise to his former Coventry manager, Steven Pressley, who handed Maddison his first ever senior start as a 17-year-old in a League Cup tie with Cardiff City in August 2014.
It was ‘tough love’ as far as the pair’s relationship was concerned – Maddison has previously gone on record saying how ‘massive’ the Scot has been in his development.
Pressley, now in charge of Carlisle United, instilled the type of values and ethics into Maddison he does with every youngster he works with, in the hope he’d go on and have a long, distinguished career.
However, there was one occasion when Maddison didn’t meet those standards and felt the wrath of Pressley, who ensured the youngster wouldn’t make the same mistake again.
Speaking exclusively to talkSPORT.com, he explained: “I remember James was out of line on one particular occasion, so I made him wash my car.
“As a young lad breaking through at Rangers I had Archie Knox, Alex Ferguson’s right-hand man, giving me the perfect football education – washing his car and cleaning his boots.
“I’ve taken those standards that Archie set me into my managerial career, so that day I explained to James that what I was doing wasn’t a punishment, but instead was there to help him grow.
“He knew I loved him as a player and a man, and as a manager once you give a player that sort of commitment they buy into it and learn from their mistakes – and that’s exactly what he did.”
Pressley recalls Maddison’s first training session with Coventry’s first team, which he says left a number of his senior players stunned at the latter’s talent.
“I remember that day like it was yesterday,” he laughs. “James was 16 years of age but was demanding the ball at every opportunity from the older lads and dictating the training game – some of them couldn’t believe what they were seeing.
“He had that arrogance and belief, even at that age, that every top player needs to reach the very top.
“He’s technically different class, the only thing I had to assist James with was his understanding of the game without the ball.
“I also stressed to him the commitment he had to show day in day out and the sacrifices he had to make to have a career of longevity.”
He continued: “I remember when James left Coventry and I received a call from his parents. They thanked me for everything that I did for him and that meant a lot to me.
“As a manager knowing you’ve played a big part in a player’s development is incredibly rewarding and the only recognition that I personally truly need.”
Even before Pressley came on to the scene it was evident Maddison had a special talent.
Former Jamaica striker Paul Hall, who has been heavily involved with the development of young talents such as Ebere Eze and Ilias Chair in his role as QPR’s Under-23s coach, said the ‘little cheeky chappy’ was a cut above the rest in Coventry’s youth team when he was at the club.
“He was very, very good. James was always the smallest kid in the team, but the most technically gifted without a doubt,” Hall, Maddison’s Under-13 coach at the Sky Blues, said.
“He was a little cheeky chappy, who had that little glint in his eye. You could always see he was a player of real quality.
“He understood the game at a very young age, his awareness and technical ability was superior to his peers.
“One thing that made James stand out from the rest was his passing range, that aspect of his game was incredible, really.
“He would always challenge you as a coach, the best players always do. I’d give him some advice on how to improve on certain aspects of his game and he’d come back to me and try and do it better. He was a good listener – and that’s still the case now.
“Every now and then we exchange messages and I say congratulations if he’s had a good game and if something hasn’t gone as well as he’d have liked I’ll offer my opinion and he always messages back.
“That speaks volumes of the guy. He epitomises the word loyalty – he’s someone who hasn’t forgotten his roots.
“James always played with a smile on his face, so to have been a real player in his development is something I take great pride in.”
While interest in Maddison continues to intensify in the here and now, the big boys were plotting their move for the wonderkid all the way back in 2014.
Arsenal and Liverpool attempted to land Maddison when he was on Coventry’s books, but an injury scuppered a Premier League transfer.
Pressley said a visit to QPR to watch an Under-23 game a year earlier had reaffirmed his belief the youngster had what it took to get to the very top.
“I was walking down the stairs at half-time about to grab a cuppa and I bump into none other than [QPR manager] Harry Redknapp.
“He went to me ‘Who is that player, Steven? He’s different class’. I nodded in agreement.
“When you’ve got a manager who has worked with some of the very best in the world saying that about a player you know he’s got half a chance of making it to the top.
“I said to people at the club at the time that we had a very special talent on our hands and as you say the rest is history, really.”
So just how much can Maddison achieve in the game? And should he resist a potential move to a top-six club and stay at Leicester which could aid his development?
“I think James is at the perfect club at this moment in time, working under an excellent manager who has a proven track record for nurturing youth,” Pressley stated.
“I know the wee man is very ambitious and he’ll want to play at the very top sooner rather than later, but my message to him would not to be in any rush to leave Leicester anytime soon.
“It’s a great football club and it’s giving him a brilliant football education.
“He’s improving all the time so I think it will only benefit him in the long run spending more time working with a manager of Brendan Rodgers’ calibre.”
Hall added: “James can go right to the very, very top. There is no doubt in my mind about that.
“If Manchester United or Tottenham come calling then that would be very hard for him to turn that down, as that would be an incredible opportunity.
“I think people forget footballers have very short career spans and you have to embrace the journey that you’re in.
“One thing I do know is that with his attitude, quality and commitment that he’s always displayed he won’t look out of place in any of those big sides – he has what it takes to be a real star.”
Saturday is GameDay on talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2 as we bring you LIVE commentary of Premier League games across all three time slots. Maddison’s Leicester take on Tottenham in the early kick (12:30pm) at the King Power Stadium