Manchester United captain Harry Maguire insists his celebration after netting for England on Friday night was not a message to his critics after he was slammed by Roy Keane.
The 28-year-old scored the opening goal at Wembley as England secured a thumping 5-0 win over Albania to all but secure World Cup qualification, powering home Reece James’ pinpoint free-kick with a commanding header.
After netting, Maguire put his fingers in his ears which was interpreted as a dig at his detractors, with the United skipper having been singled out during his club’s recent run of poor form.
Keane, one of Maguire’s biggest critics, was livid, describing the centre-back’s celebration as ‘embarrassing’ and taking another dig at his form, saying he had been ‘a disgrace the last few months’.
But, speaking after the game, Maguire rubbished suggestions his celebration was aimed at his critics and insists he is more than capable of taking any criticism that comes his way on the chin.
‘No it wasn’t directed at anyone,’ Maguire told ITV Sport. ‘It was a knee slide, obviously I put my hands on my ears, but of course it’s not.
‘I’m Manchester United captain, of course I’m going to get criticism when the team isn’t doing well. I fully expect that, but of course it’s not directed at anyone.’
On how much the goal meant to him, Maguire added: ‘Scoring for your country is a great feeling, the first goal in a crucial qualifier – we knew how important the game was.
‘We knew we had to win the game and [the early goal] really opened them up to come after us and then we punished them. So we knew how important the first goal was, and for me to score it is a really pleasing moment.’
Asked if there was an extra edge for him, and other England players, following questionable club form recently, Maguire continued: ‘Yeah but I think when you play for England there’s always an edge, there’s that pressure that you’ve got to go and win the football match.
‘We didn’t win the last game against Hungary, we were disappointed with the performance, we spoke about that, analysed that. But if you don’t play with an edge when you play for your country there’s something wrong and it was an impressive performance.’
MORE : England all but secure World Cup 2022 qualification as Harry Kane blows away Albania
MORE : Roy Keane slams ’embarrassing’ Manchester United skipper Harry Maguire for celebration after England goal
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