Harry Maguire said a surprise call from former footballer David Beckham three weeks ago was “classy” and “touching,” with Beckham offering kind words of commiseration for the beleaguered England and Manchester United defender.
The 30-year-old Maguire has been the target of brutal abuse from angry fans, an experience Beckham knows all too well after his infamous red card during the 1998 World Cup made him perhaps the most hated man in England – the nadir of his mostly illustrious career and a main storyline of his candid Netflix documentary “Beckham”.
Beckham reached out after England’s 3-1 win over Scotland on Sept. 12, when the toxic jeering by Scottish fans had both Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate and Maguire’s mother Zoe lashing out in anger.
“(Beckham’s call) meant everything,” Maguire told reporters on Tuesday after England’s training at St. George’s Park. “I’ve spoken throughout my career about David Beckham being someone I looked up to and watched when I was a young boy. He was a big role model when I was growing up.
“It shows how classy he is to reach out to me. It was something I really appreciate. It was touching really.”
Maguire, who has 59 caps for England, scored an own goal in the Scotland game in an otherwise solid game and is on Southgate’s squad for Friday’s friendly against Australia and Tuesday’s European Championship qualifier versus Italy at London’s Wembley Stadium.
In the four-part Beckham documentary, the former Man United cornerstone and wife Victoria detail the abuse suffered after his World Cup blunder. They received threats to kidnap infant son Brooklyn. A Becks effigy was hung in a pub and rocks hurled at United’s bus. Beckham, now 48, said he fell into a deep depression.
Maguire watched the documentary and said he was taken aback by the level of abuse Beckham suffered. While the 30-year-old was hesitant to divulge much of their conversation, he said “the main thing he did is he reminded me of the career I’ve had to date and the big moments I’ve had in my career.
“I think when you’re going through tough moments you’ve got to go through past experiences and past memories and where you’ve gone in your career and what you’ve been through,” Maguire said.
“Every career is so up and down, especially when you reach what I’ve reached, in terms of being the captain of the biggest club in the world for three-and-a-half years. He’s been in that position and knows what it’s like.”
The much-maligned defender lost his place in United’s starting 11 last season, but he set up Scott McTominay’s winner in their thrilling last-gasp win over Brentford last weekend, a performance that should help silence his critics.
Maguire was linked to West Ham in the transfer window but the move never materialised.
“Regular game time is really important to me. It has been throughout all of my career. The actual opportunity to go to West Ham, it wasn’t agreed really between both clubs and myself … we didn’t get far enough down the line with it.
“My full focus is still on Manchester United, I want to fight for my place, but of course game time is really important to me.”
England top Group C of Euro qualifying with 13 points in five games. Italy, Ukraine and North Macedonia have seven points apiece.