Manchester United captain Harry Maguire believes that not winning Euro 2024 would be a huge failure for England and its players.
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The Three Lions kicked-off their qualifying campaign for next summers finals in Germany last Thursday night with a hard-fought 2-1 win against reigning champions Italy.
Declan Rice and Harry Kane put England ahead in the first-half before Mateo Retegui pulled one back after the break, but Gareth Southgate’s side managed to hold on for the win despite a late red card for Luke Shaw.
Up next is a home match against Ukraine on Sunday evening, where Maguire will hope to line-up in defence just as he did in Naples.
The 30-year-old has been a key part of Southgate’s plans since he made his international debut, helping his country reach the semi-finals of World Cup 2018 and the final of Euro 2020.
Many believe that Euro 2024 will be the last dance for much of the current crop of players and Maguire admits that not winning it would mean they would go down in history as failures, saying: ‘That’s my mindset.
‘We have got to qualify first, it’s a tough group, but that’s my mindset. I’ve been at three major tournaments now and I’ve come so close. We have the players to win it.
‘We went into Qatar wanting to win the tournament, so when we get knocked out we were disappointed. I think the performances were good, we kept the most clean sheets, we were one of the top goalscorers.
‘We have built something as a group and Gareth has been the leader of it. He has been the one who has given us hope and belief as a country to be successful in these major tournaments and for sure we benefit.
‘We had to show a lot of resilience and character and coming away from home you are going to have spells where you are going to have to do that. One of the questions for all of us is, “Can we go away to the top teams and get that result?” We have shown that we can.’
It’s been a difficult couple of seasons for Maguire, who has struggled for form and now game time at Old Trafford, but nevertheless Southgate has stuck by his man.
‘For England, I do feel properly appreciated. Last season was difficult for the club but I have proven myself to Gareth, who works with a wide range of centre backs,’ he added.
‘He has the choice of all the English centre backs in the country and every time I’m available, I have been in the team. I’m sure if you ask the rest of the lads they know what I bring to the team.
‘I’m 30 but I shouldn’t need to prove myself at this level. I’ve made over 50 caps and I’m England’s top-scoring defender.
‘I’ve played nearly 200 times for Manchester United, I’ve captained the club for three years but I also understand that when you are the captain of Manchester United you come under the most scrutiny.’
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