Harry Maguire's first interview as a Red
Harry Maguire has spoken exclusively to us, in his first interview as a Manchester United player.
The Reds’ new signing told Mandy Henry at the Aon Training Complex that he will give everything for the club and is determined to ensure the team is successful, hopefully starting with Sunday’s Premier League opener against Chelsea at Old Trafford. Here, you can read a full transcript of the interview...
Harry, this time last year, you were preparing to kick off the season against United at Old Trafford in Leicester colours – and now it’s the place you’ll call home. How does that feel?
“It’s incredible. It’s a really proud moment for me to join such a big club, I’m really looking forward to it and I can’t wait to get started. Like you said, the first game last season was at Old Trafford – it’s the fixture that I always look for when I’ve been playing in the Premier League, Old Trafford away and now it’s my home, so I can’t wait to get started.”
How has pre-season gone for you? You must be hoping to be in contention for the first game…
“Yeah, I tend to get my head down – I’ve worked hard, I’ve done every session and I’ve played every game for Leicester so my fitness is there. That was a big part for me to play because if I ended up getting the move that I wanted, I would have been fit and in contention to play the first game. I feel like I’m ready to go, but obviously it’s the gaffer’s decision.”
What is your understanding from the manager about his plans for United, not just for this season but the future as well?
“Well, it’s a young team now and we’ve got big ambitions for the future. I think we’ve got to start winning trophies again and that’s something the gaffer wants to bring to the club, and his winning mentality as well, which will help all the boys. It’s something that I’m sure him and his staff will all try to bring to the club and we’re all looking forward to it.”
Is it exciting to be a main part of that rebuilding process?
“Yeah definitely, I think you’ve seen the players that we’ve brought in already this year. You can see they’re trying to build and improve on last season and I’m sure we’ll do that.”
“Yeah, it’s an amazing club. It’s a club I’ve always watched and I’ve always looked up to when I was younger. You always dream of walking out at Wembley and Old Trafford, they’re the two big stadiums when you’re a young kid, and now I’m part of it. I’ve come here today and everyone’s been so welcoming, I can’t wait to get started and I can’t wait to meet the lads and hopefully we can kick on.”
You started out at the age of 11 at hometown team Sheffield United and used to be a ballboy at Bramall Lane – how will it feel to go back there as a Manchester United player?
“It’s incredible. Obviously they’ve done so well to get into the Premier League, so it’s going to be a great game for myself to go back to Bramall Lane, one I’m looking forward to, especially as a Man Utd player. I’ll be going to do the business, get the three points, but it’ll be a special occasion for me.”
You were part of the 2011 FA Youth Cup final with Sheffield United against Manchester United, of course…
“An amazing experience, something that put me in great stead to go on and play for the first team at Sheff United. I think it was a sell-out that day at Bramall Lane, 30,000 were there watching and then to go on and play at Old Trafford for the first time was an incredible experience. It’s something that I’ll never forget and now I’m here, in my home, it’s something that I’ll get to do regularly which I’m really looking forward to.”
“When you’re young and you walk out, it’s a bit surreal. The atmosphere and the stadium itself is so unique and it’s something so special, and like I said, I’m really looking forward to going out and playing there and hopefully being a part of something successful.”
You’re now reunited with Mike Phelan, who was your manager at Hull – how much of an influence was he in that spell of your career, and did he ever talk about United during that period?
“He always gave me lots of tips and lots of pointers from the top players that he’d worked with in the past. He’s got great experience and I had a really good relationship with Mike. To be fair to Mike, he was the person who took over at Hull and gave me my chance in the Premier League and I started playing regularly and started proving that I could play in the Premier League and I could handle myself there, so I owe him a lot. I’m really excited to be working with him again, he’s a top coach, he’s helped me through my years and I’ve always been in contact with him so it’s good that I get the chance to work with him again.”
“Yeah, I’ve been really lucky with my managers, in the past I’ve had great experience with centre-backs especially, working under them. Steve was brilliant with me and Hull is a club I’ve got a lot to thank for what they did for me. I had special times there and obviously Mike and Steve were two ex-Man Utd players and I learnt an awful lot from them.”
You’ve got Gareth Southgate at England as well, does it help give you more experience in that position and help your understanding of the game when you’re working with three guys like that?
“Yeah definitely, like I said I’ve been really lucky with my managers, some great pros who have been at the top for a long time. I learn from them every day when I’m training with them, they always give me good pointers and things to work on and improve on, and I think that’s been a big part in helping my game.”
“I feel like I’ve got more experience of playing in the Premier League, I’ve become more confident and more comfortable in the surroundings. Experience is a big thing, you play a lot of games as a young boy and you learn, like I did in League One and moved up into the Championship and went through the leagues. I felt like that really helped me, being able to handle situations, and that’s a big part of what’s happened over the last couple of years of more experience playing in the Premier League and becoming more comfortable with it.”
What would you say your strengths are as a player?
“I think, first and foremost, I give everything to the team – I’m a team player. I’m going to obviously try to bring different attributes to the team, a calm composure, but the main thing is to win and hopefully I can help bring that to the club.”
The World Cup in Russia was obviously a big moment for you in your career – how life-changing was that experience last summer?
“First and foremost, to get the call-up to go to the World Cup was surreal, and then the amazing journey we went on as a team, and the way the fans got behind us was incredible. It was a life-changing moment, and it made want to go for more and play at an even higher level, so it was a great time for me and one I’ll never forget.”
“Yes definitely, I think obviously working with Gareth, and the amount of management he’s given me since I’ve been there, especially at the World Cup, the video analysis and the pointers he’s given that have helped me work on my game. I think it has definitely improved me, it’s made me feel like I can compete at the top, and play in the big-pressure games, which is massive at this moment.”
You’ve yet to officially meet your new team-mates, but does it help that you’ll know many of them from England duty?
“I know quite a lot of the boys here, that really helps and I feel like I will settle really quickly and I think that will help my performances on the pitch. Marcus, Jesse and Youngy were all at the World Cup with me and we had a good time there, and obviously Youngy managed to get a good assist at the World Cup for me! I’m really looking forward to meeting them and getting on with them and getting on with the season.”
Have you had many battles in training with Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard on England duty in the past?
“Yeah, I’ve had a lot of battles in training with those boys, the two of them are top players, very sharp, so hopefully they’re on my team in training more often than not.”
What’s it like to join a new club, are there any nerves when you walk out for training for the first time?
“I think because I know so many of the boys, and because I’ve worked with Mike before, that will help in terms of nerves. I think there will be a few butterflies kicking about but I can generally cope with nerves pretty well, I’m a confident lad and comfortable in the environment due to being at the international level and playing with other top players at the top clubs.”
So, stopping a goal or bombing forward and scoring one… as a central defender, what gives you the most pleasure?
“Definitely stopping a goal. First and foremost I see myself as a good defender, that’s my main thing. I’m in the team to stop goals and keep clean sheets and everything else that comes with it is a bonus. Obviously [scoring] is nice to do, but keeping clean sheets and stopping goals is my priority.”
Having said that, is your goalscoring threat something you work on, and what do you think it would be like to head home a last-minute winner at the Stretford End?
“It’s something that dreams are made of. Obviously I do feel like I will chip in with some goals, I tend to get my head on a lot of things in the box, and I hope it continues this year, and with the delivery the boys have got at this club, I’m sure I will.”
Now you’re here and clearly ready to get started, what’s your message for the United fans?
“I’m really proud to be here, it’s such a big club, and I’m really looking forward to getting started. I’m hoping it will be a successful season, and I’ll give everything I’ve got for this club.”
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