England

Harry Maguire defends England goal celebration after Roy Keane criticism

Tom Gott
Harry Maguire headed England into the lead against Albania
Harry Maguire headed England into the lead against Albania / Clive Rose/GettyImages
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Harry Maguire has insisted he was not trying to make a statement with his goal celebration against Albania on Friday, following some fiery criticism from Roy Keane.

Keane claimed Maguire should be 'embarrassed' after cupping his ears to celebrate his header in the Three Lions' 5-0 win, arguing that the centre-back has been so poor at club level that such a routine goal proves nothing to anyone.

Maguire was asked about those comments after the game, and he told Sky Sports News that the former United midfielder was reading too much into his celebration.

"It was a great ball from Reece [James]," he began. "We'd worked on it, we knew the areas we could exploit and credit to all the staff for doing that.

"I managed to direct the header into the far post and I think when you play these games, the first goal is crucial and it comes quite a lot from set-plays. We knew we'd get a lot of set-plays and we had to be clinical with them.

"The celebration was a knee slide, it just came naturally to me. It's an amazing feeling to score for my country. It wasn't directed at anyone, it just came naturally to do that and open the scoring for England and get the important three points."

Manager Gareth Southgate, who defended Maguire's recent form after the match, also weighed in with his opinion on the celebration.

"Is he a Hulk Hogan fan? I don't know what the celebration was for," Southgate joked. "He's a fabulous player, two months ago he was in the Euros team of the tournament.

"He's rushed back because he's the sort of player who has a huge conscience to help his club. You get lots of players who hide in the treatment room when pressure is on. He hasn't done that and I have massive respect for that but you can go into matches not fully fit and you're judged as fully fit in those moments.

"I've had a good chat with him this week, reminded him how important he is for us, he's been able to switch focus and have a few days on the training pitch which has probably helped, and his performance was very good."

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