The FA

Maguire living the dream

England new boy chats on first call-up, arrival at St. George's and a familiar face

Tuesday 29 Aug 2017

Harry Maguire is hoping to fulfil a boyhood dream this week following his first England call-up.

The Leicester City defender was named in the Three Lions squad to face Malta and Slovakia, after catching Gareth Southgate’s eye with his early-season form at the King Power Stadium and a strong campaign with Hull City last term.

World Cup 2018 Euro Qualifiers
  • Malta v England
  • 7.45pm, Friday 1 September 2017
  • England v Slovakia
  • 7.45pm, Monday 4 September
  • Wembley Stadium connected by EE

And the 24-year-old admits it was a feeling worth remembering when he first heard he’d made the selection for September’s World Cup qualifiers.

“When you’re a young boy growing up and you want to be a footballer, the pick of the pile is always trying to play for your country,” said the former Sheffield United centre-back.

“You dream about it when you’re young, so to get the call-up is amazing.

“I’ve tried to concentrate on my club form to impress the scouts, manager and his staff and now I’ve got the call, it’s all about coming into the camp, settling in, getting experience and trying to prove myself.

“Towards the end of last season at Hull, there was a bit of talk about him [Southgate] coming to games, but then I picked up a little injury which meant I wasn’t able to come into the camp.

“But to see that Gareth was coming back to watch me gave me great confidence and motivation to work hard in the off-season and get back in great shape to start well for my new club.

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“It’s something that I’m really passionate about and I’m really looking forward to the challenge.”

It’s not strictly Maguire’s first taste of life with the Three Lions though. He picked up one cap at U21 level back in November 2012 when he featured in a friendly with Northern Ireland at Blackpool's Bloomfield Road, as a second-half substitute in a 2-0 win.

And there’s an ironic twist to the tale too, as another U21 debutant from that game, Nathaniel Chalobah, was also awarded his first senior call-up alongside Maguire last week.

“It was nice to see Chals when I got here and we spoke about that game earlier, as it was his U21s debut as well,” revealed Maguire, who had just broken into the first team at Bramall Lane at the time.

“To get the call-up for the U21s was quite surreal at the time, there was a lot of young players in that squad and as you often see with the U21s, some players progress and some fall down the leagues.

“But it was great for me and Chals to get our first U21s call-up at the same time and then get the senior call-up at the same time.” 

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After reporting to St. George’s Park on Sunday evening in his Leicester track suit and with his belongings in a black bin bag, Maguire admits he didn’t know what to expect.

But he’s quickly settled into his new surroundings after a warm welcome from Southgate and his staff, who put him at ease before the group got down to training for the first time on Monday.

“I had a meeting with Gareth when I first got here, a one-on-one,” he explained.

“Then he introduced me to everyone else and said that I was here on merit so it was a good welcome for myself, gave me great confidence and I just want to prove myself now.

“It’s a big squad and there’s lots of centre-halves in the squad all fighting for their position. We’re all playing well for our clubs, that’s why we’ve been selected.

“I know it’s going to be tough, but it’s great to come here for the experience to see the lads, meet the staff and hopefully it puts me in good stead for the future.”

Tickets for England v Slovakia are still available, priced from only £20 for adults and £10 for children – click here to book.
By Nicholas Veevers at St. George's Park