Harry Maguire issues defiant response as England 'Superman' hits back at Man Utd critics

Harry Maguire issues defiant response as England 'Superman' hits back at Man Utd critics

Updated: 1 month, 21 days, 10 hours, 52 minutes, 18 seconds ago

Harry Maguire has never let England manager Gareth Southgate down, even though his form at Manchester United has been disappointing since he excelled at Euro 2020

Harry Maguire becomes a different player every time he pulls on an England shirt.

Maguire is already imagining himself singing the national anthem before Saturday’s quarter-final with France and repaying Gareth Southgate’s unwavering loyalty. Three Lions defender Maguire, 29, has been transformed at this World Cup, being a central part of England’s impressive performances and dispelling any doubts about his form before the tournament.

Clark Kent would turn into Superman whenever he pulled on his cape. Maguire becomes invincible whenever he pulls on the England shirt. Maguire said: “I am just super proud every time I sing that anthem. It is one of the proudest moments of my life. You can’t really explain the feeling. You are focused, nervous and excited.

“You have butterflies but, for sure, I’ll be ready to go. It a huge game. A quarter-final against France, the world champions, some people say maybe the favourites to win the competition.

“But these are the games we play for. These are the games growing up that you want to be involved in. They are huge pressure games but this is the pressure you want. This is where we need to deliver.”

Maguire has never let England nor Southgate down. He was one of the heroes of the 2018 World Cup campaign, when the country fell in love with the boy-next-door. Then he returned from injury last year in the Euros to help England reach the final.

Since then, Maguire has lost his starting place at Old Trafford under new Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag and his inclusion in the England line-up has been a source of national debate.

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Image:

Eddie Keogh - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

Eddie Keogh - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

But England manager Southgate has never lost faith, backing him all the way with regular texts and calls, and it is that faith and confidence which has been so key in Maguire’s performances in Qatar. Maguire said of Southgate : “He's been brilliant with me ever since he gave me my debut.

“Obviously, the trust that he's shown in me... pretty much every game I've been available for, I've played for him and I feel like I've never let him down.

“He's given me confidence to go out and play and express myself and play to my attributes. He really gives me the belief and makes me feel as though I'm valued in this team. I think he's done incredible with the team, where he's taken us from five years ago, and the belief that we've got now as a group.”

Maguire was also understandably defensive about questions as to whether he was justifying his inclusion and being in the starting XI. He added: “I don't think I've proved a point. Two years ago, I was in the Euros team of the tournament, so I know what I'm capable of.

Image:

NurPhoto via Getty Images)

NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“I've not hid away from the last year, it's been difficult, but I always knew and had great belief in myself that I'd find my form and regain my confidence and my focus. The pressure playing in a World Cup with England at this stage is the biggest tournament in the world. At Man United, I'm under a lot more scrutiny. Everything I do gets analysed. Every pass I make gets analysed.

“But I'm 29 years old, the captain of Man United and have made 52 appearances for my country, so when I look back on my career and put everything into perspective... if I was a young boy, then I'm living the dream. I'm doing everything I always wanted to do.

“So where I'm at at the moment, the next stage of my career, I want to start winning trophies. The last year has been difficult and I haven't played as well as I've done in the previous five years at the top level.

“But I think during a career, there's only probably Lionel Messi and Cristiano [Ronaldo] who are the only two who've not had a dip in their careers. It's a 15-year career if you're lucky really, there's no way really - especially with all the scrutiny that's on defences these days - you're not going to have dips. But it’s how you come back, how you bounce back from them. You've got to remain focused and keep the belief in yourself."