Gareth Southgate’s son wears an England shirt with Harry Maguire’s name and number on the back.
That, in a nutshell, tells you everything you need to know about Leicester’s lion-like centre-back who was a colossus during the Colombia game and is fast-becoming a cult hero among fans.
The 25-year-old, who stands at 6 ft 4 in tall and has a huge 100kg frame, would not look out of place on the back row for England Rugby and makes great use of his physical prowess.
His man-mountain display on Tuesday night – which included winning 12 aerial duels, the most by a defender at this World Cup inclusive of extra-time so far – showcased his dominance and stature in what was a physical contest, marred by play-acting, time-wasting and dissent.
Maguire may be short of a turn of pace or the technicality of a modern-day defender playing the ball out of the back with ease, even so, throughout this tournament he has looked like a veteran international.
Indeed, it makes a mockery out of the fact he only has nine England caps to his name so far.
He has adhered himself to Southgate’s son, the manager himself and the masses through his wholehearted commitment and style, something England fans will always applaud and support in their droves.
In essence, supporters look at the former Sheffield United and Hull City defender as if he is one of their own out there, living out their dream.
Let’s not forget, that two years ago during Euro 2016, Maguire was in the stands watching on with friends during the match against Slovakia.
That has definitely given him the perspective of what it means to wear the jersey.
Gareth Southgate’s SON wearing a ‘Maguire 6’ shirt. We all know who the managers favourite player is then. 👀💙 pic.twitter.com/YtQFkWSlHX
— Lennon Veasey 🍋 (@Foxyproxy1313) July 3, 2018
The Foxes star, who has been linked with a big-money move this summer to one of the Premier League‘s big six, has formed a strong partnership with John Stones within a three-man central defence, also including Kyle Walker.
The robustness of Maguire has actually been the perfect foil for Stones, with the Manchester City defender certainly more cultured and growing into this tournament after a difficult season at club level.
He was commanding, composed and assured for the most part against Colombia, keeping Radamel Falcao quiet (footballing wise that is) in an all-action display that really showed what he is all about. Stones made 10 clearances, three tackles, three interceptions and won the lion’s share of his aerial battles.
Importantly, he threaded passes neatly into the midfield, supplying Kieran Trippier often and even looking further left for Ashley Young, boasting a pass completion rate of 90.7 per cent in total among his 103 touches.
The pace of right-sided defender Walker is a blessing for the two traditional centre-backs, though the Sky Blues man has been prone to lapses of concentration.
Better finishing from Juan Cuadrado would have cost England dearly late on, following Walker’s sloppiness in possession, and that was before Yerry Mina’s stoppage-time equaliser.
Even so, the England defence rebuffed plenty of territorial pressure in extra-time from the Colombians and are growing as a force ahead of the Sweden clash.
Despite the fact Southgate’s men have failed to keep a clean sheet in four matches, at least now there is some talk and praise for the men at the back, given Harry Kane, notably, has made the headlines at the top of the pitch.
While the defence has yet to be tested against significant striking power in full flow, Jordan Pickford’s stellar showing on Tuesday night will have boosted the confidence levels of the defence. They now know they have a young goalkeeper behind them who has not only answered his critics but looks like he is on his way to becoming truly world-class.
England’s performance in the final third was lacking, as was their creativity, but they should take plenty of comfort in the fact their foundation at the back is looking increasingly watertight.
Three Lions fans are ever the optimists but there is no reason not to keep dreaming from this point onwards after finally tasting penalty shootout success.
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