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England’s Harry Maguire reflected on coping with abuse, acknowledging that even renowned footballers like Beckham and Rooney have endured similar challenges, stating, “It’s part and parcel”

Had Harry Maguire paid heed to the multitude of voices critiquing him last year, his demeanor on the Old Trafford pitch during Manchester United’s exhilarating FA Cup victory over Liverpool on Sunday afternoon might have been quite different as the sun set.

Last summer, a tempest swirled around Maguire, with several former Manchester United players, including Dwight Yorke, Jaap Stam, and Wayne Rooney, advising him to depart from the club. The media echoed this unsolicited advice, making it difficult to find an expert who advocated for Maguire to stay and fight for his position.

He came close to succumbing to the clamor, nearly joining West Ham. Maguire had been grappling with high-profile errors, notably in the Europa League quarter-final against Sevilla, a performance that garnered sharp criticism. Furthermore, Erik ten Hag’s decision to transfer the captaincy to Bruno Fernandes was a humiliating blow. Despite the challenges, Maguire opted to stay, though he started only one of the first 10 games of the season.

In hindsight, he is grateful for his decision. Maguire persevered to reclaim his spot in the team, capitalizing on injuries to teammates Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane. Now, under Ten Hag’s guidance since the spring of 2022, he is exhibiting some of his finest club form.

“I always had faith in my abilities on the pitch,” reflects Maguire, speaking from England’s training camp at St. George’s Park, where he continues to play a pivotal role in Gareth Southgate’s plans for Euro 2024. “I endured a challenging year with a lot of scrutiny. As captain of Manchester United, when the team underperformed, I anticipated the criticism.”

Maguire’s role in the England squad has faced continual scrutiny over the past 18 months, with Southgate’s decision to stand by the 31-year-old also drawing skepticism.

“Different clubs subject players to varying levels of scrutiny, which influences fans’ perceptions when Southgate selects a squad,” explains Maguire. “At Leicester, I could have a poor game followed by several good ones, and people would perceive me as being in excellent form. However, the same doesn’t apply at Manchester United.”

He points to David Beckham and Wayne Rooney as examples—two United and England legends who weathered their fair share of criticism and abuse during their careers. In September, Beckham reached out to Maguire to offer support after the defender faced mockery from Scotland fans during a friendly match at Hampden Park.

“Beckham faced considerable criticism… even Wayne endured scrutiny despite being one of England’s greatest players,” acknowledges Maguire. “It’s all part of football, especially when representing such a storied club. I wouldn’t change it.”

Despite facing immense pressure during his lowest moments, Maguire found solace in his inner circle and the unwavering trust of his manager, Gareth Southgate. This summer in Germany, he will once again be a linchpin in England’s defense, marking his fourth major tournament under Southgate.

“I have an excellent support system—family, friends, and Gareth, who has consistently shown faith in me,” says Maguire. “This confidence has bolstered me to be prepared and perform. I believe in my abilities and what I can contribute to a team.”

“I consider myself mentally resilient,” he continues. “I’ve overcome obstacles and challenges through experience. While everyone enjoys praise, setbacks are inevitable. It’s all part of the journey, and I view them as challenges to overcome.”

“I’m certain that from now until the end of my career, there will be more challenges to face.”

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