Norwich City's Premier League trip to Leicester City is going to be special for James Maddison and the family of Sophie Taylor, who will be the England star's guests this weekend.

Eastern Daily Press: Sophie Taylor with canaries player James Maddison. Picture: Alex TaylorSophie Taylor with canaries player James Maddison. Picture: Alex Taylor (Image: Newsquest)

The former Canaries' ace forged a close bond with the little girl from Sprowston, who died earlier this year after being diagnosed with bone cancer.

Sophie's older sister, Evie, was a Leicester City mascot for a recent top flight win against Watford - 12 months after Sophie led the Foxes out in the corresponding fixture - and there will be a big contingent in the East Midlands on Saturday.

"Sophie was a beautiful, brave young girl and the family are wonderful," said Maddison, now regarded as one of England's best young talents after leaving Norwich in a club record deal in 2018. "The first time I met Sophie she touched my heart and they've got a wonderful family so they'll be there cheering Norwich, and hopefully James Maddison.

"We've got such a close relationship to the point that every game Alex, Sophie's dad, will send me a picture or a clip of Sophie and me. It's a different one every game from all the memories and moments we had together, which is nice. That's almost a little superstition kind of thing now.

"Every morning of a game I wake up and Alex will have sent something over, wishing me good luck and stuff like that. I can't wait to see them again and it will be a special moment."

Maddison believes that bond will endure for life.

"I got close to Sophie and the family so it was heartbreaking for me. Now we are there for each other," he said. "That is something I will have for the rest of my life.

"Being there for Sophie's family at the most heartbreaking time, something no-one can ever really imagine and something no family should ever have to go through, even if I could do something that makes the family feel 1pc happier then I have done a good job.

"Sophie's family were actually at the Watford game a year ago.

"I walked out with Sophie as mascot and we won 2-0, a Jamie Vardy penalty and a James Maddison goal. Then they came again to the Watford game this season, I walked out with Sophie's big sister, Evie, as a mascot, and we won 2-0 again. Jamie Vardy penalty and a Maddison goal.

"There is something special in that."