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2022 World Cup: Harry Maguire, a certain idea of ​​English football

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You have to start with his head, unavoidable, recognizable among a thousand: square jaw, huge forehead, imposing tuft of hair. Disproportionate. The English supporters, great fans of self-mockery, have made a song of it, which they repeat at will. “Harry Maguire, he drinks vodka, he drinks Jäger, his fucking head is huge [“his head is fucking massive”]. »

England fans love to poke fun at him, his rough-hewn looks and his side ” the D “ (“young guy”) lower forehead. And basically, just adore him, and jostle him with a lot of benevolence. After all, it was largely thanks to his solid showing in the England defense that the Three Lions – who face Senegal in the round of 16 on Sunday (December 4th) in Qatar – reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and the final. of Euro 2021.

The footballer leaves no one indifferent. At Manchester United, where he plays, the fans have, on the contrary, started to hate him. Last season he was the second player to receive the most insults on Twitter, behind his former teammate Christiano Ronaldo. His permanent delay on the ball, his empty passes, his missed tackles have become objects of permanent mockery.

But, against all odds, he who seemed to be sinking into an inexorable decline saw redemption in Qatar, now with 51 selections in the national team.

The grace of an elephant, but dominating from the head

At 29, Harry Maguire represents a certain idea of ​​English football. A guy who grew up in Sheffield, in the north of England, from which he keeps a strong accent. A young man like any other, who only started in the Premier League (the English top division) at the age of 24, after years in the lower divisions at Sheffield United and Hull City. An average talent, plagued by doubt, who became captain of Manchester United. One of the most expensive players in history (transfer of 90 million euros in 2019 from Leicester), who stubbornly refuses to look like a star. A defender, above all, who plays his role with the grace of an elephant trying to take up ballet. But no one asks him for strokes of genius. His job is to be solid in defence, not to let anything pass and to be dominant with a header to defend his penalty area.

With England, he demonstrates once again during this World Cup that he does this very well. During the very boring draw (0-0) against the United States, the Americans obtained seven corners, on which, on five occasions, Harry Maguire cleared the ball with a header. “It proves how much he dominates”, underlines Rio Ferdinand, a former England defender and now commentator on the BBC. Against Iran, he recalled that he could also be devastating in attack: he headed the opposing crossbar, then served – with a header, of course – Bukayo Saka on the first English goal.

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