England defender Harry Maguire has denied that he aimed his goal celebration at critics after scoring against Albania on Friday night.
Maguire’s header opened the floodgates at Wembley as England went on to win 5-0 in the World Cup qualifying fixture, the Three Lions moving to within one point of securing a place at the 2022 tournament.
Maguire celebrated his goal by putting his hands to his ears, leading many observers to suggest that the Manchester United captain was hitting out at critics of his recent performances at club level.
ITV pundit Roy Keane was among that group, saying: “I think he puts his hands to his ears like he’s shut the critics up, but I think that’s embarrassing.”
Maguire denied those suggestions, however, telling ITV at full-time: “No, it wasn’t directed at no one. It was a knee slide, I obviously put my hands on my ears, but no.
“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 no one.”
The 28-year-old did admit, though, that he and his teammates had played “with an edge” following their disappointing draw against Hungary last time out.
“Yeah, but I think when you play for England there’s always an edge,” Maguire said. “There’s that pressure that you’ve got to go and win a football match.
“We didn’t win the last game, against Hungary, we were disappointed with the performance; we spoke about that, we analysed that.
“I think if you don’t play with an edge when you play for your country, there’s something wrong. Of course, 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. [Scoring the first goal] really opened them up to come after us, and then we punished them. We knew how important the first goal was, obviously for me to score it is a really pleasing moment.”
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