From a prison cell on the island of Mykonos, to the brink of footballing immortality in less than a year, Harry Maguire must have finally felt like a Greek god himself this summer.
Whatever happened on that night on Maguire’s 2020 summer holiday on the Greek island, we may never know for sure. Maguire protested his innocence but there was a huge cloud hanging over the Manchester United captain for a good few weeks, and it showed in his performances
The nadir of which, ironically, was in an England game — a UEFA Nations League defeat — at Wembley against Denmark. Maguire was sent off for a tired and frustrated late tackle and trudged off looking like the weight of the world was on his shoulders.
It had been 10 days earlier when Maguire had been humiliated in United’s 6-1 thrashing by Tottenham.
It was therefore fitting that England faced the same opponents (Denmark) at the same venue, for the game when Maguire enjoyed arguably the game of his life less than nine months later, England securing their first major tournament semi-final win in 55 years, with the United skipper at the heart of it.
He had, days earlier, headed his second successive goal in a tournament quarter-final, helping England keep another clean sheet in their 4-0 destruction of Ukraine.
Even a decent debut Old Trafford campaign, in which Maguire helped Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side finish third and qualify for the Champions League, wasn’t enough to convince the nay-sayers. Then the Mykonos incident occurred and Maguire admitted to being in a very dark place.
He consulted a psychologist to help him through the trauma, which had also involved his fiancée Fern and his sister Daisy.
“I think, like you say, the stigma around it is wrong really, because when you play for a club like Manchester United it, it should be there, it should be there for support,” Maguire said recently about his use of psychologists to help him on and off the field.
“I think a lot of psychologists now aren’t just psychologists, they’re involved in the football club, you know the football side of it, you don’t have to, you don’t see someone going to see them and think, ‘what problem has he got?’.
“It could be a general chat about anything so I’ve obviously spoke to, we had one at England, Mitch, who I spoke to after my summer and the disappointment of the summer that I had. Yeah, I feel like they should be there and they should be part of the game.”
Having been involved in two penalty shootout final defeats this summer, Maguire is surely ready to start winning silverware. He is a gnarled veteran of the losing side, but he’s also determined to become a winner.
United paid £80million for all those traits. Like it or lump it, that’s what quality costs in the modern transfer market.
They’ll soon get full value on that price, it seems, if Maguire carries on like this