Martin Smith: Why Harry Maguire could yet have a long career at top of the game

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford (left) and Hull City's Harry Maguire battle for the ball
Manchester United's Marcus Rashford (left) and Hull City's Harry Maguire battle for the ball
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One evening at Bramall Lane in May 2011, three players stood out a mile.

It was the first leg of the FA Youth Cup Final between Sheffield United and Manchester United.

Paul Pogba, much the player you see today, Ravel Morrison all touch and vision and Harry Maguire.

Pogba and Maguire looked like big lads playing against younger kids. Talented, physically intimidating and always one move ahead, it was almost too easy for them.

Their careers took different paths, Pogba going to Juventus before returning to Old Trafford and big Harry leaving for Hull City.

Maguire’s well-documented lack of pace has seemingly undermined his massive natural talent since then but last Thursday he again outshone £89m Pogba, fellow youth cup finalist Jesse Lingard and the rest of the Man Utd superstars with an almost complete centre-back’s performance.

As Blades columnist Matthew Bell remarked on Friday the 23-year-old’s getting noticed again. That promised career at the very top of the game could yet belong to Harry Maguire.

n Of all the elite goal-scorers in football history he still stands head and shoulders above the rest. At least for now.

Jimmy Greaves’ top-five European leagues’ record of 366 career goals has stood since 1971.

Ronaldo will overtake him soon at Real Madrid but the football world ought to reflect on the man paralysed by a stroke last year and probably most remembered for his TV banter.

Greaves had perfect balance, was lightning quick, brave, calm and a natural scorer - the equivalent of today’s £100m man when he moved from AC Milan to Spurs in 1961 for £99,999.

The smooth economy of his running style was matched by his efficiency in front of goal – 366 league goals in 528 games.

Take a look at Greaves’ goals on YouTube. Absolute genius.

He once scored a goal for Spurs against Forest from the edge of the penalty area when he ‘gave the eyes’ to the keeper - and everyone else in the ground. The next thing anyone knew was the hiss of Golden-T football against netting as it flashed into the top corner.

There was a second’s silence before a motionless Peter Grummit - later an Owls goalkeeper - and the rest of us realised what Greaves had done. By then he back to the half-way line chewing his gum.