Jordan Pickford believes his England team-mate Harry Maguire deserves more respect.
Maguire has become a figure of some ridicule after a downturn in form for Manchester United in the last year, with some questioning whether he should be in England’s team at the World Cup in Qatar.
However, the 29-year-old centre-back was a key figure as the Three Lions won their opening Group B match 6-2 against Iran on Monday.
“I think [Maguire] needs to be respected a lot more, but part of the life of a footballer you are going to get criticised, everyone gets criticised in football,” England goalkeeper Pickford told reporters.
“But Harry is mentally strong, takes it really well but yeah I think it’s a bit unfair, but his performances on the pitch show how good of a player he is and why he has so many caps for England and why he is captain of Manchester United.”
6 – England recorded their biggest ever victory in their opening match at a major tournament (World Cup/EUROs) and scored six goals in a major tournament game for the only the second time in their history, also doing so against Panama at World Cup 2018 (6-1). Assured. pic.twitter.com/OD0oNRxU5S
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 21, 2022
Maguire assisted Bukayo Saka’s first goal against Iran, won all four of his aerial duels, and felt he should have had a penalty when he appeared to be dragged down in the box with the game still at 0-0.
“He did unbelievable [against Iran], [he was] really good the other night,” Pickford added. “For the first goal, the pass, then the assist for [Saka] and then maybe he could have got a penalty for us early on with the VAR decision that went against us.
“We have a great relationship, I think the majority of my caps now have been with Harry playing in front of me. We work really well together, and I think that our defensive record with Harry playing there is really good as well, and he is in a very good moment.”
In a World Cup that has thrown up some surprising results in the opening days, England will have been pleased to get through their opener with a comfortable win, but Pickford insists they cannot look too far ahead of the next game, which comes against the United States on Friday.
“The situation is that we are here now, and the challenge is to go and win the World Cup,” he said. “But there are a lot of challenges to get there and a lot of ups and downs really in each football match to get there, but our main aim is to win the World Cup, I think that is why everyone is here, to win the World Cup.
“We do have little conversations about it because it’s what we want and it’s our end goal, but we have to get to our end goal first.”