11 Oct Maguire: Beckham call helped handle fan abuse
BURTON UPON TRENT, England — Harry Maguire has revealed how a personal phone call from David Beckham helped him cope with abuse from supporters, which at times has been so bad that his family have stayed away from games.
The 30-year-old endured a chastening evening as a second-half substitute in England’s 3-1 win over Scotland last month, ironically cheered onto the field by thousands of home fans before his every touch was jeered including a 67th-minute own goal.
Maguire was previously targeted by Arsenal fans when representing Manchester United at Emirates Stadium and the centre-back has faced a barrage of social media abuse after falling out of favour under Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford.
England boss Gareth Southgate claimed after the Scotland game that “I’ve never known a player treated the way he is” and Maguire disclosed that Beckham rang him a few days after the game to offer his support.
Beckham endured a torrid reaction from angry England fans to his red card in the Three Lions’ 1998 World Cup round of 16 defeat to Argentina. A recent Netflix documentary revealed his father, Ted, was sent bullets in the post, an effigy of Beckham being hung by his neck was displayed in a south London pub while David and his wife Victoria later received messages threatening to kidnap their first-born son, Brooklyn, after his birth in March 1999.
Speaking about the call from Beckham, now 48, Maguire said: “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 appreciate. It was touching really.
“I don’t want to go too much into the conversation but the main thing he did is he remind me of the career I’ve had to date and the big moments I’ve had in my career.
“I think when 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.
“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.”
Maguire has been a mainstay of the England team under Southgate as they reached the World Cup semifinals in 2018, the Euro 2020 final and then the quarterfinals of last year’s World Cup in Qatar.
However, the criticism he has received for United and England has led to some family members attending Maguire’s games with less frequency.
“You play football for memories, for good times for myself but also for my family and my friends,” he said.
“The tournaments that they’ve been to, you’ll probably speak to them and they’ll probably say it’s the best times they’ve had and the best times of their lives.
“Obviously the last year has been a bit tougher for them. I’d say there has been times where they probably haven’t been to as many games as they did previously, especially the away games.
“But I’m sure over my career they’ve had amazing times and they’ll speak really highly of it.
“I’m sure in the future — I’ve still got many more years left — they’ll have some amazing times as well.”
Maguire started just eight Premier League matches last season as Ten Hag preferred Raphaël Varane, Lisandro Martínez, Victor Lindelöf and at times Luke Shaw ahead of him at the heart of United’s defence.
He was heavily linked with a £30 million transfer to West Ham this summer but denied reports he simply turned down a move despite facing another season on the periphery at United.
“Regular game-time is really important to me,” said Maguire, who has started two of United’s 11 matches across all competitions so far this season.
“It has been throughout all of my career. The actual opportunity to go to West Ham, it wasn’t agreed really between both clubs and myself.
“It wasn’t just my chance to say, ‘Yes, I’m going.’ It wasn’t agreed between both clubs so the actual opportunity wasn’t there because we didn’t get far enough down the line with it.
“West Ham is a massive club. But my full focus is still on Manchester United, I want to fight for my place, but of course game-time is really important to me.”