Johnny Maddison

Young Guns: Johnny Maddison

by Kate Smith

We profile Sunderland's budding star between the sticks.

Sunderland youngster Johnny Maddison hasn't always donned the gloves on the pitch – he started his footballing journey as a midfielder!

The tall stopper was a budding player with Waldridge Park Juniors when he ventured between the sticks following the departure of his team's keeper.

Little did he know then that the move would lead to move to Sunderland, where he is now in the second year of a scholarship with the club's under-18 side.

“My dad was the manager and when our goalkeeper left I went in goal,” he explained.

“We played in a tournament and surprisingly I did quite well. It all went from there, really.

“I was scouted and when I was asked how long I'd played in goal I said 'one tournament'.

“I was always a tall lad and I enjoyed going in goal because it was a change. I haven't looked back since.”

Having proved to be a natural in goal, Maddison continued to impress under the watchful eye of the likes of Academy goalkeeping coach Mark Prudhoe.

And he was handed the chance to join the club on a full-time basis ahead of the 2011-12 season.

“I was taking it season by season to begin with, always hoping for the next contract,” he explained.

“It was tense during my under-16 year but I was so happy to come in and see a contract there for me.

“Last season was a learning curve for me, especially as there's only one position to fill for goalkeepers.

“I was lucky enough to get some games with the under-18s and under-16s to get myself ready for this year.”

Maddison has established himself as first choice this season, beating out competition from Joel Dixon and first-year scholar Peter Burke.

“There a lot of competition for a starting place, but it doesn't affect us personally,” he added.

“We are all good mates and respect the decisions the coaches make.”

The scholars are now getting set for the second half of their season after finishing fourth in their league group over the first portion of the campaign.

They rounded out the pre-Christmas schedule with a defeat to Manchester City in the FA Youth Cup, with Maddison winning praise for an excellent performance in goal at Stockport County's Edgeley Park.

Now the lad from Chester-le-Street is looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season brings for the current group of players.

“We are playing Premier League clubs clubs week in, week out and it's a tough standard,” he said.

“I think we've adapted well. The City game was a tough one on a big pitch but we gave it our all.

“We worked hard as a unit but on the day City were an exceptional side and you have to hold your hands up, accept that and move on.

“When the league starts again we'll be playing some different teams but the standard will still be high.

“We've done well so far but now we have to keep it up and kick on.”