Old friends Harry Maguire and John Stones happy to ride football’s ups and downs

Old friends Harry Maguire and John Stones have come a long way since their days playing against each other in the youth teams at Sheffield United and Barnsley.

Sunday, 28th March 2021, 10:32 am

The South Yorkshire pair were part of the defence that provided the base for the Three Lions’ memorable run to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals.

Maguire and Stones are ready to team up again when England head to Albania for Sunday’s World Cup qualifier, with the latter set to make his first international start since November 2019.

A dip in form and game time at Manchester City put the 26-year-old out of the international reckoning, only for an impressive resurgence to bring around a deserved recall ahead of the rearranged Euros.

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Harry Maguire and John Stones of England during the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier between England and Montenegro.

Maguire has also had ups and downs since their last appearance together, with a high-profile Greek court case seeming to impact his performances for club and country early in the season.

“We always speak away from football,” the Manchester United captain said of Stones.

“He’s a good friend. I grew up with him, I grew up playing against him when he was at Barnsley.

“We’re not far from each other where we actually grew up and lived and come through.

“When you play centre-back especially, week in, week out you’re going to have some ups, you’re going have some downs, you’re going to be at fault.

“You’re not going to go throughout your career without being at fault for goals, so you get scrutinised when you play in the Premier League so you expect that.

“It’s about how strong you are mentally and how you can come through it.

“I’m pleased to see John. He’s back playing and back playing with confidence, back playing really well. And for myself, I feel exactly the same.”

Asked if they leaned on each other, Maguire added: “Yeah, definitely. We spoke to each other through times where it’s tough. We spoke when it was tough and we speak when it’s going well.

“Like I say, I’m close with John. I want him to play as well as you can without winning football matches, if possible!

“You go through ups and downs and it’s about how you bounce back and believing in yourself and working hard. That’s only what you can do.”