'Proud' England Euros hero Harry Maguire hails support network as former Sheffield United man bounces back from nightmare few months
What a difference nine months has made for Sheffield’s Harry Maguire.
Back in October 2020, still reeling from a raft of charges following a high-profile street incident on Mykonos, Greece, Maguire was sent off after 30 minutes of England’s Nations League clash with Denmark and The Independent newspaper summed up his season as “a nightmare”.
July 2021 sees Maguire and England set to lock horns with Denmark again, and things are very different for both player and country. The Manchester United defender, formerly of Sheffield United, has been a key part of England’s march to the semi-finals of the European Championships and will line up against Kasper Hjulmand’s men at Wembley on Wednesday evening looking to help England book their first ever Euros final date.
Maguire was on the scoresheet with a towering header in England’s 4-0 quarter-final rout of Ukraine on Saturday evening, and Gareth Southgate’s side face the Danes on the back of five clean sheets in their five Euros games so far.
And Maguire, looking back to the last Denmark game, said: “I have great support around me, great family and friends and a great club who have helped me a lot as well.
“It was a challenging time, but every international player has been through ups and downs. That’s part of being a footballer. I’m proud of how I came through it and the way I handled it.
“Now I’m in a positive place. Everything’s good at the minute and long may that continue.”
Maguire was found guilty of aggravated assault, resisting arrest and attempted bribery in a Greek court, but has appealed the verdict. "We're in touch with the players quite a lot when they're not with us, as much as we can,” Southgate said.
"I try to respect the clubs and not interfere, but there are obvious times when things have happened and they need more support. The beginning of this season was very difficult for Harry on a number of fronts.
"So it's brilliant to see how he has emerged with so much more confidence as a leader. You can see that within the group. Being captain of Manchester United is a massive challenge, a massive responsibility, but it's brought a lot more out of him.
"You can see he's more confident in himself and has gone on to another level, not just his game but on his maturity."
The respect is reciprocated, with Maguire saying of Southgate: "Ever since I made my England debut, I think Gareth has been brilliant for this team.
“He sits here and gives us all the plaudits, but we appreciate the job he's doing; the way that he sets us up and his man-management skills. So I can't speak highly enough of Gareth and his coaching staff and the way that he's gone about his business over the last four years.
"He's proved over the last four years that as an England manager it's always hard to please everyone, especially the public, in terms of the way he sets up and selection.
"But we trust him. Whatever team he picks or whatever style of play he wants to go with, it's the best one for the job."