Harry Maguire insists his goal celebration in England’s 5-0 win over Albania “was not directed at anyone” following stinging criticism from Roy Keane.
Maguire raced off after scoring the opening goal at Wembley Stadium, sliding on his knees in celebration before cupping his hands beside his head and putting his fingers into his ears.
Former Manchester United midfielder Keane labelled Maguire’s celebration as “embarrassing” in light of his recent performances at club level which have drawn criticism.
“When a player scores and puts his hands to his ears, he’s like ‘shutting the critics up’. But I think that’s embarrassing,” Keane said on ITV.
“He’s been a disgrace the last few months at Man United. He thinks he scores there and he’s gonna shut his critics up. Embarrassing.”
Maguire was adamant that the gesture was not about silencing any critics, nor aimed at anyone.
“The celebration was a knee slide, it just came naturally to me,” Maguire told Sky Sports News. “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.”
England manager Gareth Southgate also defended Maguire, who missed last month’s international window due to a calf injury.
Is he a Hulk Hogan fan? I don’t know what the celebration was for,” Southgate said during his news conference. “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.”