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Noni Maduke celebrates scoring
Maduke has scored twice in the Champions League qualifier for PSV Eindhoven this season, but losing to Benfica in the play-offs means the Netherlands are now in the Europa League.

About 140 km west of Borussia Dortmund’s Idona Park, where 18-year-old Jude Blingham excites Bundesliga fans, there is another English teen prodigy who plays for a famous continental club: PSV’s Noni Maduke.

The 19-year-old Barnett-born player scored nine goals and eight assists last season in the Netherlands. His form prompted him to be called up to the European Under-21 Championships in England last March, drawing the attention of local and more distant clubs.

And if his style sounds familiar as a direct, powerful and versatile striker, it is because he is inspired by one of the biggest names in the Premier League.

“The one who made me play football was Cristiano Ronaldo when he was playing for Manchester United,” Maduke told BBC Sport. “He was my idol. I grew up watching him.”

Despite his loyalty to United, although he turned down the opportunity to join them, he did not accept the change, which he felt would better serve his progress. He was promoted to Tottenham Hotspur when, in the summer of 2018, at the age of 16, he decided to move on to a faster path to adult football.

United were one of several top clubs that wanted Maduke, but he chose the main route offered at PSV.

Chelsea, Manchester United, many European clubs [made offers]Maduke explains.

“I came here once and as soon as I came I wanted to sign immediately. I knew going from Tottenham to United was almost the same. The reason I wanted to go was to move to the first team faster. PSV is a top European club “It was very logical then and it is logical now.”

At PSV, Maduke was able to learn under a great Premier League player. He sees former Manchester United striker Rood van Nistelrooy – the manager of Young PSV, the club’s second division – as strengthening his scoring instincts.

“The river helped me a lot,” says Maduke. I was with him for almost two years, from the time I came until I went to the first team. I sponge him and learned a lot.

The justification for Maduke’s Dutch decision was swift. He excelled in the Under-19 and Jung PSV teams, making his first-team debut at the age of 17 and coming off the bench in a 1-1 draw with VVV-Venlo in January 2020.

The young winger’s ability to adapt to adult play was not surprising to those who worked with him. He has always been ahead of the curve in terms of growth.

Noni Maduke signed a new contract
Maduke signed a four-year deal with PSV in August

“He always wanted to do more than anyone else,” recalls Justin Cochrane, a former Tottenham Hotspur manager who now plays for Manchester United. “If a player was taller than him, he would say, ‘I can score more goals than him.’

He played in the under-14 and under-15 teams at one point, and I remember the moment we had a meeting together, he said: What do I have to do to get under-16? “If you score 10 goals in the next 10 games, you play under 16,” I said. I think he scored 12 goals in 10 games.

“I always played a year or two ago,” Maduke adds. “Playing against bigger, stronger and better opponents is nothing new to me. I think that’s why I got into first-team football so easily.”

The coronavirus epidemic broke out shortly after Madoke’s first game. The Eredivisie season was suspended and then canceled. This young man found himself away from home in the most uncertain situations. His response was to do his best to prepare for the resumption of football.

“I worked hard during the epidemic,” he says. “I wanted to go back and make a mark in first team football. I came back and I could make a mark immediately. Now I just keep going and going.”

That worked. Although he secured a place in PSV’s starting line-up, his form was rewarded in the summer with a four-year deal and the number 10 shirt. “I wanted to wear this shirt because the best players wear these numbers and I expect a lot from myself,” he said.

His best performance to date took place at the beginning of 2021-2022, in Johann Cruyff Shield – the Dutch equivalent of Community Shield. PSV beat Ajax 4-0 and the Englishman scored two goals. Since then, everything has not been easy sailing. He has suffered a disorganized form and minor injuries, but Maduke’s features still shine well.

“He’s gone through the moments of trying, which is normal for a 19-year-old,” Rick Elfrink, who covers PSV for the Eindhoven Dogblad newspaper, said. “His attack is high quality, but he has a lot to learn in his defense. But I can say it is a plan. [of joining PSV] It worked almost perfectly

Hard work is not a problem for him. He is truly a man of sacrifice. PSV is a good environment for him. “If he later moves to a big club in England, he will be happy to have started his development here.”

Noni Maduke (left) and Cole Palmer (right) celebrate a goal for England under 21
Maduke played for England in the Euro Under-21 qualifier against Kosovo in September alongside Manchester City’s Cole Palmer, another player who has impressed this season.

If we believe last year’s reports, the big clubs in England – and elsewhere – are watching. Tottenham, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid are just a selection of A-list names interested in Maduka.

But this ambitious and goal-oriented teenager, for now, is heavily focused on unfinished business in Eindhoven.

“I focus well on my goals,” he says. “I set really high goals for myself. I write notes about what I want to do.

I just want to win the league and the cup and work in the Europa League as much as I can.

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