The ‘new Steve Bruce’ con­tin­ues on path to in­ter­na­tional hon­ours

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FOOTBALL - Richard Sut­cliffe CHIEF FOOT­BALL WRITER Email: richard.sut­cliffe@ypn.co.uk Twit­ter: @RSootyYPS­port

HE is the Pre­mier League foot­baller who loves the Three Li­ons so much that he trav­elled to Euro 2016 as a fan.

Harry Maguire is also so down-to-earth in an age where a wash­bag can set a player back up­wards of £1,000 that he turned up on Eng­land duty for the first time with his be­long­ings in a bin bag to earn a telling-off from his hor­ri­fied mother.

To the man who helped the Sh­effield-born de­fender re­alise his top-flight dream, how­ever, Maguire is fondly re­called as the player who he once told Steve Bruce was des­tined to be­come “the next Steve Bruce”.

“Those were the ex­act words I said to Steve af­ter first watch­ing Harry play for Sh­effield United,” says Stan Ter­nent, for four years Bruce’s head of re­cruit­ment at Hull City, when speak­ing to The York­shire Post ahead of a World Cup qual­i­fier at Wem­b­ley against Slo­vakia tonight that is set bring Maguire’s first place on the bench.

“I’d been told about Harry when he was a young lad through some con­tacts of mine. So, I went along to watch Sh­effield United to see for my­self. I can’t re­mem­ber who were the op­po­si­tion but I re­mem­ber think­ing: ‘This kid can play’.

“So, I did a bit of home­work and liked what I heard. To cut a long story short, I went back to Steve and said: ‘I have seen a kid that you have to take’.

“He asked if I was sure so I said: ‘I have seen him a cou­ple of times now and, un­der no cir­cum­stances, can you miss out on Harry Maguire – he can hon­estly be the next Steve Bruce’.

“And I didn’t say that lightly, ei­ther, be­cause Steve was a won­der­ful player, the best I can think of who never got an Eng­land cap.”

Whether Maguire gets his chance to shine un­der the Wem­b­ley Arch tonight or not, the 24-year-old has un­doubt­edly be­come one of the Pre­mier League’s bright­est tal­ents.

He first caught the eye of the wider sport­ing pub­lic last sea­son, footage of the Hull de­fender glid­ing out of de­fence with the ball at his feet be­com­ing al­most as com­mon a fea­ture of Satur­day night on Match of the Day as Gary Lineker’s weak puns and the 19th hole chum­mi­ness of the show’s pun­dits.

But it is in the colours of Le­ices­ter City fol­low­ing a sum­mer trans­fer that could even­tu­ally bring £17m into the KCOM Sta­dium cof­fers where his deeds have brought the ul­ti­mate recog­ni­tion via an Eng­land callup from Gareth South­gate.

To those who have fol­lowed Maguire’s ca­reer since he first an­nounced him­self on de­but in se­nior foot­ball by dump­ing Craig Bel­lamy on his back­side in such uncer­e­mo­ni­ous fash­ion that the nor­mally fiery Welsh­man ac­tu­ally com­mended him with the words “good tackle”, such a me­te­oric rise has not come as a sur­prise.

Thrust into a United team that was just a month away from be­ing rel­e­gated to League One, Maguire, even at the ten­der age of 17, looked to have a ma­ture head on those ever so broad shoul­ders.

He could also play, some­thing that can be put down, in part, to Maguire hav­ing grown up as a mid­fielder with ju­nior club Brun­smeer Ath­letic.

Only a growth spurt at the age of 15 and John Pem­ber­ton, then United’s Academy man­ager, sug­gest­ing he move back into de­fence brought a change of po­si­tion but the legacy of those years in mid­field can be seen in his com­po­sure when set­ting off on one of those barn­storm­ing runs up­field.

“Harry is a big pow­er­ful lad,” added Ter­nent. “His ae­rial tech­nique needed a bit of work at Hull, which I still think is the case as he has more im­prove­ment in him.

“But he has de­vel­oped into a good de­fender, who reads the game very well. He also suits the mod­ern way of bring­ing the ball out from the back.”

By the age of 19, Maguire had racked up a cen­tury of ap­pear­ances for the Blades and been named in the PFA Team of the Year for 2011-12.

Two more se­lec­tions by his third tier peers would fol­low along with an ap­pear­ance at Wem­b­ley in an FA Cup semi­fi­nal, iron­i­cally lost to Bruce’s Tigers in April, 2014, but not the elu­sive pro­mo­tion that ev­ery­one at Bra­mall Lane craved.

It meant, as the sum­mer of 2014 dawned, that a move away from Maguire’s home city looked more and more likely. Hull won that race to con­tinue him along a road that, be­fore very long, seems cer­tain to bring what would only be his sec­ond taste of in­ter­na­tional foot­ball.

The first came with the Un­der-21s at Bloom­field Road in Novem­ber, 2012, the then Blades de­fender coming off the bench for the fi­nal half-hour in a 2-0 vic­tory over North­ern Ire­land.

Seven months later, an­other South York­shire de­fender who Maguire had faced in youth team games against Barns­ley was mak­ing his Un­der-21s de­but and Ter­nent sees def­i­nite sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween the pair.

“John Stones went for £50m last year but there isn’t a lot be­tween them,” he added. “Stones may be a bit quicker and more mo­bile but Harry has other things to his game.

“What al­ways im­pressed me was how he han­dled things, even at such a young age. By the time he was 20, he had played a hell of a lot of games for Sh­effield United and that ex­pe­ri­ence has been vi­tal. He is a re­ally good lad, too. Al­ways will­ing to lis­ten and take what oth­ers might ad­vise on board.”

Maguire’s trip to France for Euro 2016 in­cluded at­tend­ing the group game against tonight’s op­po­nents at Wem­b­ley. A dull goal­less draw in Sain­tE­ti­enne was enough to send Roy Hodg­son’s men through to the knock­out stage and a seem­ingly straight­for­ward meet­ing with Ice­land.

That, of course, did not end too well but if Maguire can main­tain his cur­rent rate of progress and Eng­land do not slip up in qual­i­fy­ing, chances are next sum­mer’s tour­na­ment will kick off with Maguire en­joy­ing a much more piv­otal role in Rus­sia than cheer­ing from the stands.

John Stones went for £50m last year but there isn’t a lot be­tween them. Stan Ter­nent com­par­ing Harry Magurie to Manch­ester City’s John Stones.

PIC­TURE: PA

HANDS OFF: Harry Maguire, left, and Alex Oxlade-Cham­ber­lain dur­ing an Eng­land train­ing ses­sion at St Ge­orges’ Park, Bur­ton.

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