Published On: Wed, Sep 13th, 2023
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Harry Maguire sends message to England boo boys as Man Utd star takes it on the chin | Football | Sport

Resilient Harry Maguire has told the boo boys he can handle anything they throw at him. The England centre-back was mercilessly targeted by Scotland supporters during the Three Lions’ 3-1 win at Hampden Park on Tuesday night and social media abuse followed his second-half own goal.

The pillorying of Maguire was criticised by Gareth Southgate called an “absolute joke” and beyond anything he has ever seen. Southgate added: “I’ve no problem with the Scotland fans – they’re having fun. But what stirs that up is people in our own country. Other players will think: ‘Is that what awaits us?’”

But the Manchester United defender insists he is tough enough to take whatever comes his way. “We knew coming here that it would be hostile and in the second half I got most of it. I am happy to go with that, don’t worry about that,” said Maguire.

“I would not say I am a person who struggles with pressure mentally, I have been through a lot in the last couple of years and I have been Manchester United captain for nearly four years. You take a huge lot of responsibility and everything that comes with it and that is a lot of bad as well as good. 

“It was a hostile environment and they piled pressure on me. I would not say I am used to it but I can deal with it.” England fans at Hampden rallied to Maguire’s defence as did team-mates afterwards – defensive partner Lewis Dunk described his treatment as “unfair” and “very harsh”.

But the 30-year-old insisted he can cope. “It pretty much takes the pressure away from my team-mates and puts it all on myself. It makes them play better, for sure,” he said.

“A little bit of banter” is how Maguire put it after the game. It was a neat line in understatement after Hampden had turned his introduction off the bench at half-time into an exercise in bear-baiting. Every time the ball came near him he was mocked mercilessly, the butt of a particularly noisy joke.

Maguire had the last laugh with England’s win but as a personal experience it was distinctly challenging. No wonder he shook his fist at the end in celebratory solidarity with the travelling England fans who had backed him with supportive chants even after his own goal. Any port in a storm.

“I have grown up a huge England fan and nothing is better than receiving a great reception every time I play for my country,” said Maguire. “The fans have always been with me. They have seen what I have delivered for England over 59 caps.

“I am disappointed with the own goal but that is football. You are a centre-back and you put yourselves in those positions. I am really pleased with how I performed in the second half and how I dealt with it.”

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