Norfolk

Super Strong Sophie: James Maddison dedicates Burnley goal to Norwich girl

Sophie Taylor with James maddison Image copyright James Maddison
Image caption James Maddison, pictured with Sophie Taylor, has previously been called up for international duty with England

A Premier League footballer has used his goal celebration to remember a young friend and supporter.

Sophie Taylor, five, from Norwich, died early in January a year after being diagnosed with bone cancer.

Leicester City midfielder James Maddison, who met Sophie when he played for Norwich City, scored from a free-kick in Saturday's 2-1 win at Burnley.

The 22-year-old midfielder revealed he was wearing a top saying "RIP Sophie I Love You", but was shown a yellow card.

On Instagram, the footballer, who has previously been called up for international duty with England, said: "That was for you Soph, I know you were watching."

Image copyright Kirsty Taylor
Image caption Sophie Taylor, five, died in January

Sophie, who was a huge football fan, met Maddison in April 2018 when she was a Norwich City mascot.

Her father, Alex, said: "We speak to James [Maddison] a lot and he'd told us he couldn't wait to dedicate his next goal to Sophie.

"We were checking the scores and were so elated for him, because he genuinely loved Sophie. Football needs more people like James."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Maddison's free-kick put Leicester ahead in their Premier League game at Burnley, despite his side playing with 10 men...
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption In celebration, Maddison removed his playing top to reveal a top which read "RIP Sophie I Love You"

'Referee doing his job'

Under the laws of the game, set out by the International Football Association Board (Ifab), players who remove their jerseys in goal celebrations must be cautioned by the match referee.

Fans criticised Maddison's booking on social media, with one saying the officials "should have shown a little compassion".

However, the Leicester player defended match referee Michael Oliver's decision.

On Twitter, he wrote: "Regarding tweets about Michael Oliver, he's just doing his job and didn't have a choice.

"He didn't enjoy showing me a yellow and shared his condolences about the passing of Sophie which I thought was very respectful."

Image copyright Plumb Images
Image caption Under the laws of the game, a player must be cautioned if they remove their playing jersey as part of a goal celebration

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