England boss Gareth Southgate has hailed Leicester star Harry Maguire as one of the best ball-playing defenders in Europe. Since going to Euro 2016 with his friends to watch the Three Lions take on Slovakia, it is fair to say the 25-year-old’s ascent has been remarkable.
The last 15 months have been particularly impressive after swapping relegated Hull for Leicester, where he swept up at the end-of-season awards before starring in England’s run to the World Cup semi-finals.
Maguire repaid Southgate’s faith in spades in Russia and the Three Lions boss believes the defender is one of the best around.
“I was first and foremost delighted he was fit and available,” the 57-cap former defender said ahead of Tuesday’s friendly against Switzerland in Leicester.
“The reason for that being when I was watching him during last season I knew that on the biggest stage he’d be able to perform and excel. I was so pleased he was going to have the opportunity to do that and he delivered.
“He’s a superb defender, he’s really effective in both penalty boxes and the way that he brings the ball forward and can use the ball is as good as anything in Europe, in my opinion.
“I think he proved to himself as much as anything that against some top players and some top teams in the lead-up to the finals, during the finals and again Saturday night that he can compete with the very best.”