Since last summer Harry Maguire has played in a World Cup Semi-Final, become the world's most expensive defender, become a father, and now he's signed his first major deal with PUMA Football. It's been a big couple of years for the big man. So when we sit down with Maguire ahead of England's landmark 1000th international fixture he's in a reflective mood about his journey to date.

Harry, it’s been a mad couple of years for you to say the least. How has life changed for you since the World Cup?

It was a great time for me at the World Cup, one that I really enjoyed and it was a great journey that we went on. As a player, as staff and as fans well we all got together and the support was unbelievable. So it’s been good. I’ve kept climbing the ladder since I’ve come back from the World Cup and I’m really happy to now play for Man United. Hopefully we can kick on now.

With the World Cup being such an amazing occasion, do you find your mind drifting back to memories of it?

Yeah, definitely. There were so many good times at the World Cup and it was a real stage where the fans got behind us and we felt the support again and we had the belief that we could go on to win it. In the end it turned out to be disappointing. The semi-final was so disappointing to lose when we felt like we were so close to reaching the final. But it is something that I look back on and it felt like a big part of my career where I put myself in the spotlight playing in the best games.

There was a meme that went viral after the game. What do you make of things like that and the microscope that you find yourself under?

I think it just shows that the atmosphere between the players and the fans – I think we interacted really well with them. I think there were times before where we probably felt a little bit distant, but I think social media helps that in terms of telling them and showing them what we’re up to on a daily basis. It was all fun during the World Cup with some of the things that were going around on social media, the videos etc. It was a great time where we felt united again and I think the support was unbelievable. It gives you more energy and more determination to be successful again.

There’s been plenty of videos and photos of you as a fan. Did you ever visualise yourself trading places and being on the pitch?

That’s your dream when you’re a young boy, you always want to play for England, so it’s a dream come true when you do get selected. You might feel like it’s far away, but you’ve just got to keep on working hard for your club, and I think that’s important. If you play well for your club then you’ve got a great chance to be selected for England and I think Gareth has shown that. It doesn’t matter what club you play for. I was at Leicester at the time and he gave me the opportunity to go and play in the World Cup and I’m forever grateful for that. 


Fast forward and you’re now wearing a famous number 6 shirt. How does that feel?

Obviously it’s an iconic number. Bobby Moore wore it. It feels great to emulate people that I grew up watching and learning from when I was a young boy. It’s amazing to wear the shirt in the first place, but the number 6 is particularly special.

We’re heading towards the Euros, but the last one you were at as a fan. Can you tell us a bit about your experiences there?

We had a great time. I went with a few of my mates over to France and we got into the atmosphere and the build up to the games and it really showed me the support for the country. It’s unbelievable. The atmosphere that they created before and after the games, it was a really good experience for myself and one that I really, really enjoyed. Maybe after I’ve finished playing football I’ll end up being in the stands again and supporting my country that way, but at the moment I’m fully focused on trying to win a tournament.

Turning back the clocks even further and switching the focus to boots, do you remember the moment you got your first pair of boots?

When you’re a young boy one of the first things on your christmas list was probably a pair of football boots – the new ones that had just come out. It’s really special to get your first pair of football boots. I have a little nephew who’s two years old and he gets really excited over his football boots, so it’s a special moment. You look back over the years and you see the iconic pairs that have been worn and it’s something that you want to grow up and do.

You’ve started a fresh chapter by linking up with PUMA. Why were they the right brand for you?

They look after some top players and I’ve heard some really good things about the brand and the service that they give to players. I really like the style of the boots and the comfort that they offer, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can build together in the next few years. I’m sure that on and off the pitch we’ll be successful.

PUMA have obviously given you a tailored treatment. Can you tell us a little about what that entails as a professional?

First and foremost, they look after you. They make sure you get the comfiest boots, and the main thing about joining a brand like this is being on the pitch in the comfiest boot possible. I’ve tried a lot of boots out and PUMA was definitely the most comfortable. So they scanned my foot and measured the boot to my foot. Then I put it on to check that it feels good and comfortable and it went from there.

Do you still get a little bit excited when you see a new pair of boots?

Definitely. Wearing a new pair of boots or a new colour, especially if you like the colour, it’s really exciting.

I’ll probably get judged by people regarding my mistakes, but I know that I’m strong-minded enough that I’ll react well and I’ll bounce back and keep performing."

The plan will be for you to wear the PUMA ONE in England’s 1,000th game. What would that feel like stepping out for such a monumental occasion?

It’s obviously a massive game and one that I’m looking forward to. Wearing the new boots for the first time will be exciting as well. Come the end of the game hopefully I’ll be able to look back and we will have picked up a good result and a good performance, that’s the main thing.

Touching on family, how big has your family been in getting you to where you are?

They would follow and support me everywhere. For them it was probably tough, and they always used to do it, whether at Middlesbrough or Sunderland and the places which we travel far to. I most certainly wouldn’t be where I am now without them. Obviously with my brothers as well who both play, it’s probably the reason why I’ve been so successful at football in terms of playing with them in the garden when we were younger. We were so competitive against each other, we wanted to beat each other all the time. As I said, that’s probably a big reason why I’m where I am now.

Jumping ahead a little bit, you've mentioned Rio Ferdinand being an icon of yours... Were there players that you would run around the garden pretending to be?

When I was a young kid I think everyone wanted to be David Beckham in the playground. But when I was growing up and I started playing centre back I always looked up to Rio Ferdinand and John Terry who were both playing in my position at the time, week in, week out for their clubs, playing at the top level and winning trophies. Playing for England as well as the main two centre halves. Yeah, I’d definitely pick those two.

Going back to your family and who they support England, it must be massive for them to see you there while they also still get to enjoy the experience...

I’m sure they get nerves and obviously they want me to do well. I’m sure every England game they look forward to it. It’s good times for them. My family go and a lot of my mates go as well and follow me. I’m sure when they look back in a few years time they’ll have some good experiences.

You’ve seen both sides of supporting England, from a fan’s perspective to now a playing one. How much does that give you added fire to bring good times to people?

I’ve been there as a fan and I’ve seen what unbelievable support they give. To put a smile on peoples faces is the reason I play football, and there’s no better way of doing that than winning a major tournament. We take every step as it comes though. We’ve got the Euros coming up and it’s going to be a good time, but only if we’re successful. It’s something that we’re all looking forward to as a team. We feel that we have a good team now in England and a good setup with the staff and the players and it’s a good opportunity for us.

Must be awesome when you see the videos of all the pints flying everywhere. Does that give you a bit of a boost?

Yeah definitely. In the World Cup we always used to check social media after the games that we won. You see the support that the fans gave us at the World Cup, it was unbelievable. Finger’s crossed, I’m sure it will be the same for the Euros and they can spur us on to be successful.

Maybe after I’ve finished playing football I’ll end up being in the stands again and supporting my country that way, but at the moment I’m fully focused on trying to win a tournament."

What in your character has helped you to reach the level that you have when others may have fallen away?

I think I’ve got great confidence in my ability to play at the top level. Even when I was at Hull and I wasn’t playing I felt like I should’ve been playing. So I’d say I’m a confident lad in terms of my ability, but the main thing is working hard every day in training. If you’re going to train and you’ve had a couple of days off and you don’t really fancy it I think it can catch up with you, especially when you’re not playing at your top level. When you’re not playing your best football out on the pitch you need to work even harder off the pitch. I’d say that’s probably the main reason why I got through the times where I wasn’t playing. I managed to stay fit and just kept working hard. I knew eventually I’d get that breakthrough.

A lot must’ve changed around the time when you became the world’s most expensive defender. How crazy was that time and everything that you were going through?

When I knew that Manchester United were interested I really wanted to join the club. It’s such a big club and I’m really lucky to play for them. When I was a young boy I dreamt of walking out at Old Trafford and I dreamt of walking out at Wembley, and now I get to do both, so I’m really fortunate in terms of that. When I knew there was interest I had my mind set on it straight away. I know at the moment we’ve had some indifferent results, but I’ve signed a long-term deal there and in the long run we will be successful as a club.

What happens when you join a club like Manchester United, do you notice a change in scale?

Well first and foremost is probably the people that watch the games and the scrutiny that you’re under to mistakes that you make, but I’ve always been strong minded in reacting to mistakes well and I know I’m going to make big mistakes from now until when I stop playing for Man United, so it’s how I react to the mistakes. I’ll probably get judged by people regarding my mistakes, but I know that I’m strong-minded enough that I’ll react well and I’ll bounce back and keep performing. I think the main difference is trying to react to the mistakes that you make in a positive way and just keep doing your thing on the pitch.

Do you relish that opportunity?

Definitely. I’ve always wanted to play in the biggest games possible and under the biggest pressure and there’s no better way than to play for Man United and do that.

Having experienced everything that you have so far then, how high do you set your aspirations?

My main aim is to start winning things, to start winning trophies, for club and country. I want to win big tournaments for the country but I also want to win big tournaments and leagues with my club. That’s my main aim now and it has my full focus.


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