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Noni Madueke exclusive interview: PSV's English entertainer on Mario Gotze, Ruud van Nistelrooy and leaving Spurs to move abroad as a teenager

In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, PSV winger Noni Madueke discusses leaving Tottenham as a teenager and finding a new path abroad as he prepares to face Leicester City in his first professional club game on English soil...

PSV Eindhoven winger Noni Madueke

"I am a bit of a showman," Noni Madueke tells Sky Sports when asked to sum up his game. "I try to beat players. I am fast. I have an eye for goal. That is how I would describe myself."

This is not cockiness. He is humble but confident, and that confidence is justified. The 20-year-old Londoner has been a huge success since leaving Tottenham for PSV over three years ago - rejecting the chance to go to Manchester United.

Madueke is back in England for his first professional game against English opposition when PSV face Leicester City in the Europa Conference League quarter-final on Thursday. It is just the next experience for one of the bright young talents of English football.

England U21 international winger Noni Madueke
Image: England U21 international winger Madueke continues to progress

These are the occasions that persuaded him to move to Eindhoven in the first place. He has made over 60 appearances for the 1988 European Cup winners since making his debut over two years ago. The justification for his bold choice is obvious.

"I have been in a first-team environment since I was 17," he says.

"I don't think there is any way I would have experienced first-team football at that age in England. That is the main thing. I just liked the aura of the club. From the moment I came here, I liked the aura straight away. It just felt like the right next step."

The standout moment so far came in August when he scored twice in a 4-0 thrashing of Ajax in the Dutch Super Cup. It was a man-of-the-match performance. "That was the highlight of my years here. It was the first trophy that I have won in my professional career."

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The first of many? There seems no doubt. There is a steely pragmatism to Madueke. He does not romanticise his move abroad, instead downplaying the significance of a young man living on his own in another country. He is doing what he must do to succeed.

Asked if it was a challenge for him to leave home at such a young age, he is clear. "Off the pitch, not really. I think if I were in England it would be pretty much the same. Moving abroad when you are young, it takes a bit of heart. Other than that, it is no different.

"I have definitely seen another side of life and had to adapt. There was a culture shift. But I am someone who is easy-going and can live anywhere so it was not so difficult. I live by myself but I see my family quite frequently. Everyone speaks English so it is pretty easy.

"I feel like I was just coming here for a job, to get the job done. It was a move for my career so I was just thinking of making the best out of it. I was not really worried about leaving London or anything like that. I just knew. I was focused. I wanted to do the job."

His first season was spent with the development team, working under Ruud van Nistelrooy, honing his craft under the former Manchester United striker. "He is a legend of the game so it was an honour and he is still a great finisher. He helped me a lot with that."

The breakthrough came last season when he was PSV's third-highest scorer in the Eredivisie with seven goals despite starting only seven of the team's 34 matches. Roger Schmidt, the club's experienced coach, taught him another side of the game.

"He has helped me with my out-of-possession work, pressing and being connected to the other players on the pitch so I can win the ball back as quickly as possible. Two years on, I am a bit more polished in my game. That is the difference now.

"When you are 18 coming into the first team you are a bit raw. I am probably a more decisive player than I was two years ago. My biggest strengths are still my speed and my dribbling but I would say that my end product is good as well now."

He names Cristiano Ronaldo as his childhood favourite and there are signs of that in his game. He shoots from inside the box more often than any other PSV player and completes more dribbles too. No Eredivisie player completes as many dribbles per 90 minutes.

Noni Madueke's heatmap and passing sonar for PSV Eindhoven in Champions League qualifying this season

Even so, it has not been straightforward since that day against Ajax. Madueke missed much of the winter through injury. "It was difficult but now I am over it and I have been able to play the second half of the season with pretty much no problems," he says.

In particular, he caught the eye in both games for the England U21 side last month.

"It was fun. Two games, two wins.

"It has definitely been a progressive year."

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Highlights of the UEFA U21 Championship qualifier between England and Andorra

The opportunity to play alongside Mario Gotze - scorer of the winning goal in the 2014 World Cup final - has been a positive too, the pair developing a good understanding. "We have a pretty young team so Mario has definitely been an influence with his experience."

That could be decisive against Leicester. Madueke's father and brother will be there at the King Power Stadium but - typically - the player himself has laser-like focus.

"It is definitely a big game. I am coming back home. It is my first game against an English team. It will be another experience but I just see it as another game we have to win.

"Leicester are a good team. But so are we."

It has already been confirmed that PSV will be coached by Van Nistelrooy next season with Schmidt moving on. Madueke expects him to thrive in his first senior coaching role.

"It will be interesting to see how he gets on. I feel like he will be fine. He is well-equipped. Everybody respects him a lot for what he has achieved in the game so players will definitely take to him. Tactically, he has good ideas as a coach as well, so he will be fine."

Whether Madueke will still be at PSV remains to be seen.

PSV's Noni Madueke, left, controls the ball past Maccabi's Idan Nachmias during the second leg play-off Conference League soccer match between Maccabi Tel Aviv and PSV in Bloomfield stadium in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022.
Image: Madueke is a standout dribbler thanks to his speed and skill

Brendan Rodgers' team are just one of the Premier League clubs that have been linked with a move for him in the summer. It is only a matter of time before he returns to England. "I definitely want to play there next." He just does not know yet when that will be.

"Whether it is this summer or whenever it is, for now, I am focusing on the rest of the season. It is definitely an ambition of mine to play there. I have had a kickstart in my career by playing a lot of games at a young age. I feel like I will be ready for any step I take."

There is that confidence. He just needed the opportunity.

His next one will come in Europe against Leicester on Thursday evening. Just another game. Just another chance for Noni Madueke, this single-minded showman, to take to the stage.

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