England head coach Gareth Southgate has condemned the criticism of defender Harry Maguire by sections of supporters and the media.
Maguire, 30, came on as a substitute during England’s 3-1 win over Scotland on Tuesday, scoring an own goal in the second half before ending the match as captain following Harry Kane’s substitution.
Maguire was jeered by some Scotland fans at Hampden Park before and after the 67th-minute own goal but was then cheered by the away supporters at the end of the game.
“It’s a joke,” Southgate said. “I’ve never known a player treated like he is, not by the Scottish fans, by our own commentators, pundits, whatever it is.
“It’s beyond anything I’ve ever seen. He’s been an absolute stalwart for us in the second-most successful England team for decades. He’s been a key part of that.
“Every time he goes on the field, the resilience he shows, the balls he shows, is absolutely incredible. He’s a top player. We’re all with him, our fans were brilliant with him tonight.”
Maguire has earned 59 England caps and was a key part of the Southgate sides which reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and 2020 European Championship final.
He has remained a fixture in England squads despite finding game time hard to come by at United over the past year, with manager Erik ten Hag stripping him of the club captaincy over the summer. Maguire was subject to a transfer offer from West Ham United but remained at Old Trafford.
Maguire had not featured for United this season before being called up for England’s September fixtures, and was then a second-half substitute in their 3-1 loss against Arsenal before the international break.
The former Leicester City man played 90 minutes on Saturday as England drew 1-1 with Ukraine in a Euro 2024 qualifier.
“He was exceptional for us at the weekend, the reaction tonight is a consequence of idiots, really, from our side, who have created that environment,” Southgate added.
“So I think what was brilliant tonight was our fans, who were here, realised that they’re going to protect their own.
“We should be doing that. We’re creating a problem for our own player.
“Some of the articles that have been written, some of the comments that have been made, are an absolute joke.
“He’s been a tower of strength for us through one of the most successful periods of English football. And the response tonight, I understand the Scottish fans — they’re having a bit of fun — it’s created by our own side. It’s ridiculous.”
Phil Foden and Jude Bellingham gave England a first-half lead in the friendly match, played to mark the 150th anniversary of football’s oldest fixture. Kane then scored in the 81st minute to restore England’s two-goal advantage, following Maguire’s own goal.
(Photo: Michael Regan – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)