Booing Harry Maguire an ‘absolute joke’, says England boss Gareth Southgate

March 30th, 2022

England boss Gareth Southgate has called the booing of defender Harry Maguire in their 3-0 friendly win over Ivory Coast “an absolute joke”.

Some fans jeered as the Manchester United captain’s name was read out before kick-off at Wembley.

Maguire has endured a difficult season with his club but has been a mainstay in the England team that reached the World Cup semi-finals and Euros final.

“The reception was a joke, an absolute joke,” said Southgate.

Some supporters also booed Maguire’s first touch as England claimed a comfortable victory thanks to goals from Ollie Watkins, Raheem Sterling and Tyrone Mings.

It was Maguire’s 42nd appearance for his country and Southgate said the treatment of the 29-year-old was unacceptable.

“I don’t know how it benefits anybody. We’re either all in it together or we’re not,” he added.

“I imagine if you asked a few of them why they did it they probably wouldn’t even be able to answer. It’s mob mentality. One end of the ground you have a hardcore group trying to get his name sung – it wasn’t everybody.

“Players will look at that and think, that could be me. It makes players not want to come. It has happened in the past with John Barnes.

“We need Harry to do well. We aren’t going to win a World Cup with a load of players with three or four caps. That’s never happened in the history of the game.”

Speaking to Sky Sports about Maguire, Southgate added: “The way he has performed for us has been absolutely phenomenal. I don’t get it.

“He’s in an England shirt and not only should you support a player in an England shirt regardless, but when you’ve played at the level he has for us – and put the performances in he has – it should be total commitment behind him.

“His performance was pretty faultless really. He stepped out from the back really well for the first goal, was involved in the second one too. The team are totally united. We recognise everyone has difficult moments, but he’s a top player and he will come through it.

“They are real England fans and some are influenced by whatever – social media or players that played previously who are influencing opinion. The club situation is obviously very difficult, but he’s in an England shirt.

“I remember decades ago a few players being booed in an England shirt and it’s never been acceptable to me. Fans should always get behind their team.”

‘Harry has been a colossus for us’

Maguire’s team-mates were quick to show their support for him after the win over Ivory Coast.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson said: “I can’t get my head around what happened at Wembley tonight. Harry has been a colossus for England. Without him, the progress made at the last two tournaments would not have been possible.

“To be booed at his home stadium, for no reason? What have we become? What happened tonight was just wrong. As someone who wants to win with England I feel fortunate to share a dressing room with him. We all feel the same.”

Jack Grealish also pointed out Maguire’s part in England’s first two goals as he called the booing “ridiculous”.

“Harry has been unbelievable for this country – the World Cup, the Euros, he has been brilliant,” said the Manchester City player.

“Our first two goals, the first one comes from him driving with the ball and the second one comes from him driving a little bit. Not every centre-back has those qualities.”

West Ham midfielder Declan Rice tweeted that those booing were a “total embarrassment”. He said: “Harry Maguire has been incredible every single time he’s put on the England shirt. Absolute nonsense now it’s becoming. Back your own players. Especially with a major tournament coming up.


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