Sheffield United: Neill Collins outlines the qualities that have made ex-Blade Harry Maguire a top-flight star

Pundits are falling over themselves to lavish him with praise, Gareth Southgate is reportedly keeping an eye on him and Hull are bracing themselves for a £10m bid from a top club this summer.

Thursday, 16th February 2017, 5:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 1st March 2017, 8:32 am
Sheffield United Neil Collins and Harry Maguire celebrate reaching the play-off final

But Harry Maguire’s rise to prominence this season is no secret in the Steel City, and Sheffield United supporters will hardly be surprised either after the defender’s 164-game spell at Bramall Lane.

He eventually moved to Premier League side Hull City in 2014 for around £2.5m, a fee that looks more and more like a bargain with every passing week.

Collins saw Maguire flourish after making his United debut

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Match of the Day 2 pundit Martin Keown, a defender who won 10 major honours in his Arsenal days, raved about his performance against Chelsea last month - “As good a defensive performance as I’ve seen,” he said - and Neill Collins, who played alongside 23-year-old Owls fan Maguire at the back for United, isn’t surprised.

“Harry has fantastic knowledge of the game which comes from years of watching, even if it was Wednesday,” Collins, now of Tampa Bay Rowdies in Florida, told The Star.

“Strength only gets you so far - and he is the strongest player I have ever seen - so his reading of the game, too, makes him a formidable defender.

“I remember well the day he bullied Christian Benteke at Villa Park when we won there in the FA Cup.

Maguire has impressed for Hull in the Premier League this season

“He’s also tremendously composed, too, and has a great right foot. His marauding runs from the back have improved year on year, and it’s a combination of his ability on the ball, his speed and his strength.

“But for me, his ability and willingless to learn is his biggest attribute. When he came into the United team at 18, he was awesome but still had to learn aspects of defending in the professional game.

“But he soaked up information and was very inquisitive on how to deal with certain problems he faced.

“He’s a fantastic role model for any young player coming through.”

Collins saw Maguire flourish after making his United debut
Maguire has impressed for Hull in the Premier League this season