Maguire admits ‘fear’ of England and compares himself to former Manchester Utd striker Ronaldo

Maguire admits ‘fear’ of England and compares himself to former Manchester Utd striker Ronaldo

Manchester United defender Harry Maguire has admitted he was “fearful” of not being included in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the World Cup.

The 29-year-old earned his place in the team of the tournament for Euro 2020 after recovering from an ankle injury.

But Maguire’s career has since gone downhill as his form for Manchester United has declined.

Knocked out after Erik ten Hag lost his first two games in charge, the centre-back made just seven further appearances for the club, a spell which also saw him sidelined with injury.

Those struggles have led to questions about Maguire’s place in the World Cup squad and the defender admits there was a part of him, however small, that was worried he wouldn’t make Gareth Southgate’s selection.

“Obviously to be picked for your country is a huge privilege,” he said before winning his 50th cap in Friday’s World Cup group stage match against the United States.

“It is the pinnacle of anyone’s football career to play in their country’s major tournaments, especially the World Cup. It is the biggest tournament in the world.

“Obviously you are scared of (not) being in a team but I believed a lot in what I did in the 49 appearances I played for England that I gained the trust to be in the team and be available for the team and the selection”.

Maguire was slotted straight into the starting lineup for Monday’s World Cup opener against Iranwhose supporters had brought some marks that goaded the oft-abused defender.

There may be few players who receive more relentless criticism than the world’s most expensive defender, but he seems adept at ignoring it.

Asked if he doubts himself given the loud background noise, Maguire said: “No, I have great self-confidence.

“I go out to the training ground, work as much as possible. I give my all, I give my all and that gives you good preparation to enter a match and perform at your best level.

“I went to the European Championships on the back of an eight to ten week injury, so I wasn’t too concerned about the lack of playing time.

“Obviously I want to play every week for my club. It’s something I will fight to get back on the team.

“So, it’s not what and where I wanted to be, but obviously I feel fresh.

“I’ve worked hard, I’ve worked making appearances on the training ground to make sure I’m ready when I get the opportunity to play.

“I knew the World Cup was coming, so I always did the extra shifts in training, like I said, and kept ticking.”

Maguire is away with England at a fascinating time for Unitedwith the Glazer family announcing on Tuesday they were willing to sell just hours after the mutual termination of Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract.

The skipper says he found it easy to focus on international affairs despite there being “a lot of chatter going around the club”, and he interestingly used his former team-mate as an example to deal with the criticism.

“Obviously as a footballer nobody likes to be criticized but I think it’s an integral part of the game,” said Maguire, who is feeling well after being substituted against Iran because he was feeling ill.

“I have played with Cristiano Ronaldo for the past two years and he is one of the greatest players to ever kick a ball and he is criticized day after day.

“So if it’s going to happen to him and the position I’m in, I think it’s an integral part of the game, especially the position I’m in playing for Manchester United and captaining Manchester United.

“With Cristiano playing and me standing by him for the past two years, he’s the greatest player, to me, to ever kick a ball and he’s criticized every day, so it’s going to happen to all of us.

“So, it’s an integral part of the game. It’s something you have to train yourself, do your best and that’s what I always tell myself. Go in and do your best and that’s just what you can do.

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