Maguire: Rio was my inspiration growing up
Harry Maguire is the definition of a modern centre-back.
He’s good in the air, strong in the tackle and leads by example, but he’s also comfortable bringing the ball out of defence and starting attacks, which he puts down to the influence of legendary former Red Rio Ferdinand.
In a special episode of Box to Box, powered by HCL Technologies, the current Reds captain discusses his transition from midfielder to defender, and also cites John Terry as another player he looked up to.
But it was Rio – and his penchant for picking out line-breaking passes – that really caught Harry’s imagination when he was learning his trade.
Box to Box: Maguire explains the art of defendingVideo
“I’ve always looked up to two centre-backs really: John Terry and Rio Ferdinand,” Maguire told host Statman Dave.
“[They were] two centre-backs who when I was growing up were playing week in, week out, winning big trophies, winning big games and playing for England as well. [They were] the main centre-backs for England.
“I think Rio took the philosophy of defending to another level. John Terry was always good on the ball.
“He had the range of passing, left and right foot, but I think Rio took the philosophy of you do have to start bringing the ball out from the back, stepping in and committing players.
“He was really great to watch and from my era that’s the person I’d probably say made me open my eyes and think that’s what you need to be a top, top centre-back in terms of you’ve got to start helping your attackers as well.
“Like I’ve said, the main thing is defending but the bonus of playing through the lines and playing good passes to start attacks is important too.”
Another skill Maguire has in his arsenal, which Rio was also renowned for, is his ability to dribble past opponents.
Of course, we saw that most notably in our 6-0 win over Tranmere Rovers in the Emirates FA Cup, when Harry waltzed beyond the Whites’ midfield before thumping the ball into the top corner for his first United goal.
And, for any budding defenders reading, Maguire says that having good awareness at the back is key when it comes to launching attacks.
“The best thing is just to be calm and composed and trust your ability,” the 27-year-old added.
“A lot of dribbles start with good defending, in terms of intercepting passes, but I can manipulate the ball quite well, especially for a big lad.
“It’s something that I’ve always had as part of my game. I do like to dribble the ball out and start attacks off. It sets the tempo for our team.
“[Rio] probably did it most out of anyone, and it was quite unusual at the time, but he really stood out when he did it.”
The full version of Box to Box with Harry Maguire, powered by HCL Technologies, is available to watch now.
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