James Maddison: Aberdeen sent a message to Scottish football

James Maddison curls the ball home against the Gers.
James Maddison curls the ball home against the Gers.

Level in the final minute at a packed Pittodrie in the first game against Rangers for nearly five years – yet James Maddison was ice cool as he stepped up to take a free-kick.

It was a display of bravery and maturity from the 19-year-old who curled a sensational 25-yard effort in off the post.

The 90th minute winner was a goal that immediately secured hero status for Maddison, a £3 million signing for Norwich from Coventry in January.

He said: “I don’t get nervous. I was confident in myself and confident in my ability that I would be able to stick it away, and thankfully I did.”

The victory elevated Aberdeen to second in the Premiership table.

Leaders Celtic hold a four-point advantage and also have a game in hand.

Maddison is convinced overcoming Rangers can be the catalyst to launch a title challenge on the Hoops.

He said: “We sent a message out to Scottish football that we are not here to plod along.

“We’re here to challenge.

“However, we don’t want to look too far ahead.

“But with the squad we have, we are capable of beating any team on our day.”

Maddison arrived at Pittodrie in a transfer deadline day move.

He has made an immediate and lasting impact that will endure long after he returns to Norwich to what will surely be a successful career south of the border.

Following his goal in the 3-1 defeat of Dundee, team-mate Jonny Hayes insisted Maddison was a “level above Scottish football”.

Maddison said: “Scoring that goal (against Rangers) was an unbelievable feeling. It’s what you dream of in the build-up.

Obviously, there was a lot of hype surrounding the game. You go through scenarios, well I do anyway, of scoring the winning goal late on – and I’m buzzing with it.

“I have never scored a better goal and it will be tough to beat that one. It was only three points but it felt like a lot more than that because of the hype and the press surrounding the game.”

Pittodrie was a sell-out for the visit of Rangers which capped off a successful week where the Dons also booked a League Cup semi-final slot against Morton.

“The fans were brilliant and the atmosphere was electric,” said Maddison.

“I know it is a cliché but the fans really were the 12th man. They honestly make a difference as they give you that extra little boost.

“You want to do it for them and thankfully we did that.

“We will look back and think this was a massive week for the club.

“We wanted six points and to be in a semi-final and we have achieved that.”