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Football Reporting


Harry Maguire backs England boss Gareth Southgate to sign new deal

Harry Maguire hopes Gareth Southgate will sign a contract extension to stay on as England manager after highlighting the support he received over the last 12 months following the defender’s arrest in Greece.

Maguire, 28, has endured a difficult year after being found guilty of aggravated assault, resisting arrest and attempted bribery last August following a holiday in Mykonos. He is awaiting a date for his appeal — which could come as late as next year due to a national backlog caused by the coronavirus pandemic — but he received unwavering support from Southgate throughout, to the extent he was named in England’s Euro 2020 squad despite missing the final three weeks of the season with an ankle injury.

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Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham has indicated Southgate will be offered a new deal with his existing agreement expiring after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and asked whether the players wanted the 50-year-old to continue in the role, Maguire said: “Yeah of course. I can only speak on behalf of myself but I’m sure everyone as well is so happy in terms of coming to the England camps and the way that he has made it so enjoyable for everyone.

“Obviously winning football matches over the last three years has really helped that along as well. I can’t speak highly enough of Gareth, what he’s done for myself personally and the trust in faith he has put in me.

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“Gareth’s support of me has been brilliant ever since I made my debut for England. He picked me to make my debut and then I think ever since I’ve been available I’ve pretty much played in every game possible.

“That gives me great confidence and belief and trust going into the game to enable me to perform to my best. Every time I step onto the pitch I’m trying to repay the faith and the trust, because every time I go onto the pitch I want to do my best for the country.

“I never feared for my international career. I always felt like I had something to bring and something to offer. And I knew without going into too much detail about what went off in the summer, I knew where I stood on behalf of that. So, I always knew what went off. And I’m totally over it now. I’ve moved on. It was a tough time for sure but I’ve moved on.”

Former England defender Jamie Carragher said on Monday that he made contact with the Manchester United centre-back following his arrest and Maguire said: “It was one thing when you go through bad moments, you realise the people who support you and Jamie was one of numerous people and ex-players who got in contact and spoke with me.

“Obviously I’m not going to read out what was said and spoken about but it was great support, it means a lot. During these bad moments, you do realise the people who are supporting you.”

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England face Denmark in Wednesday’s Euro 2020 semifinal at Wembley (3 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. CET on ESPN, ESPN+), nine months on from their previous meeting at the same venue in a UEFA Nations League clash. Christian Eriksen scored the only goal as Denmark won 1-0 with Maguire sent off after just 31 minutes following two poor challenges.

“I had great support around me, great family, great friends, a great club who helped me along the way,” he added.

“It was a challenging time. I think every international player has been through ups and down in their career. That’s part and parcel of being a footballer. It was a challenging time but I am proud of the way I handled it, the way that I came through it.

“I wouldn’t say it is extra motivation. I think the motivation is there. It is the semifinal of a European Championship.

“Losing in the semifinal of the World Cup [to Croatia] hurt a lot so we need to make sure that, on Wednesday night, we get a positive feeling rather than the one we got against Croatia.”

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