Under-fire Harry Maguire says a supportive call from former England captain David Beckham after being hounded at Hampden Park “meant everything” to him.
Just over two years after being a Manchester United ever-present and part of the European Championship team of the tournament, the 30-year-old defender now finds himself as the butt of jokes.
Many opposing fans have revelled in Maguire’s drop off and Scotland supporters goaded him mercilessly after coming on and scoring an own goal in England’s 3-1 win last month.
Maguire immediately laughed it off as a “little bit of banter” but hearing from somebody that knows a thing or two about intense criticism meant the world to him.
Few have faced sharper focus in an England shirt than Beckham, who has laid bare the pain he suffered after his 1998 World Cup red card against Argentina in a new Netflix documentary.
“I actually spoke with David about three weeks ago, after the Scotland game,” Maguire said.
“He got in touch with me, so it was really nice of him and I really appreciated that. It meant everything. I’ve spoken throughout my career about David Beckham being someone I looked up to and watched when I was a young boy.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t end up on the right wing scoring and assisting as many goals as he has. But he was a big role model when I was growing up.
“It shows how classy he is to reach out to me and to message me. It was something I really appreciated. It was touching really.”
Maguire said seeing Beckham’s name come up on his phone put a “big smile” on his face, with the star going on to remind him of his career to date and the big moments he has enjoyed in the conversation that followed.
“You’re going through tough moments you’ve got to go through past experiences and past memories and where you’ve gone in your career and what you’ve been through,” he said at St George’s Park.
“Every career is so up and down, especially when you reach what I’ve reached, in terms of being the captain of the biggest club in the world for three and a half years. He’s been in that position and knows what it’s like.
“Obviously having watched the documentary I couldn’t believe how much he went through at the time. In the documentary Gary Neville speaks about how resilient he is as a person. I think he’s been a huge role model for many footballers growing up, especially in my era.”
That chat and his experiences have helped Maguire retain belief and confidence, as has the continued faith shown in him by Gareth Southgate.
The England boss has been in charge for all 59 of his caps and snapped in Glasgow at treatment he said was “ridiculous”, “a joke” and “beyond anything I’ve ever seen”.
“I try and stay away from it all,” Maguire said, who says he posts on social media but avoids reading online comments.
“Obviously you can’t stay away from it as your family and friends are probably seeing things, they probably read a lot more than I do.
“Yeah, there has been a lot of talk about me over the last year. For that talk to happen, you have got to have built your way up to be a top performer like I’ve done over the previous five years to that.
“Things haven’t gone to plan over the last year or so, but I am sure it will get back on track. A career is a long path. Many ups, many downs, it probably has been a little blip and I am trying to be back to where I was.”
Maguire knows he needs to repay Southgate’s faith by playing more minutes with Euro 2024 looming large and says he can continue to “block” out any abuse.
But he knows that is “a bit tougher” for his loved ones and his mother Zoe last month criticised the “disgraceful” abuse her son has been subjected to, which she claimed went far beyond football.
“If she felt like that and wanted to do that, then I fully support her in terms of that,” Maguire said.
“My mum’s been a big part of my career, she’s someone I go to for support and she was in the stands in the Scotland game. She probably felt affected by it and annoyed by it.
“But she is more worried for myself, but I reiterate to her that I am all good and I’m strong mentally and I can deal with it.
“It probably affects (my friends and family) a lot more than it does myself because they obviously do get affected by it but they also worry for me and how I’m dealing with it. But I reiterate to her all the time that I’m good.”