JAMES MADDISON hailed Harry Maguire’s “big balls” in a cheeky Instagram post after Gareth Southgate’s fierce defence of the star.
Manchester United’s 30-year-old defender came off the bench to win his 59th England cap in last night’s 3-1 win at Scotland.
Due to his lack of match action at club level, the star’s inclusion was questioned by many.
However, after playing a huge role in helping the Three Lions to the 2018 World Cup semi-final and the final of Euro 2020, he remains a key man for Southgate.
That did not stop the Scottish fans cheering his arrival on the pitch at Hampden Park yesterday, and they then proceeded to jeer his every touch.
And as the pressure mounted, things got even worse for Maguire when he scored an own goal midway through the second half.
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But Southgate came out swinging in defence of Maguire as he slammed the “ridiculous treatment” and criticism he faced as “a joke” afterwards.
And that was followed up by fellow England star Maddison, who left Leicester for Tottenham this summer, on social media.
He posted a photo of himself speaking to Maguire pre-match, and he captioned it with the word “big” alongside a host of ball emojis.
Southgate said afterwards: “I've never known a player treated the way he is.
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“He's been an absolute stalwart for us in the second most successful England team for decades – he's been an absolutely key part of that.
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“I've talked about the importance of our senior players, he's been crucial among that.
“Every time he goes on the field, the resilience he shows is absolutely incredible. He's a top player and we're all with him and our fans were brilliant with him.”
Harry Kane sealed England’s victory with the third goal yesterday, and that instantly led to England’s travelling supporters showing their support for Maguire by serenading the centre-half.
Southgate said: “From a Scotland fans' point of view I get it. I have absolutely no complaints with what they did.
“But it's a consequence of ridiculous treatment of him for a long period of time.
“It's a joke. Not by the Scottish fans but by our own commentators, pundits or whatever it is.
“They've created something that's beyond anything I have ever seen.
“I think our fans recognised, 'OK there might be a bit of heat from our own supporters but we're not going to have others getting into him'.”
Meanwhile, Maddison was not the only England player to rally around their team-mate.
Goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale said: “Harry Maguire, as we've seen in the past few years with England, is one of the best defenders we've got.
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“So strong mentally, he's got a great group of people around him and he knows his qualities.
“He's always a threat in the box from set pieces, he knows he can defend, he knows he's a leader and I love playing with him. Tonight was one of those unfortunate things.”
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