Harry Maguire says David Beckham reached out to him after he was abused by Scotland supporters during England’s 3-1 win at Hampden Park last month.
The defender was jeered by Scotland supporters during the friendly, with his own goal another blow for a player whose struggles in recent seasons have seen him become a target for critics.
Afterwards, England boss Gareth Southgate said he was “livid” with the way Maguire’s reputation has been attacked, calling his treatment over a sustained period “an absolute joke”.
“I actually spoke with David about three weeks ago, after the Scotland game,” said Maguire, speaking in a press conference ahead of England’s October internationals against Australia and Italy.
“He got in touch with me, which was really nice of him and I really appreciated that. It meant everything.
“I’ve spoken about David Beckham being someone I looked up to and I watched when I was a young boy. He was a big role model when I was growing up and I think it just shows how classy he is to reach out to me.”
Maguire spoke about Netflix‘s recently released documentary series, which details Beckham’s life and career, with particular focus on the intense negative attention he received after his red card against Argentina at the World Cup in 1998.
“He’s been in that position and he knows what it’s like,” he continued. “I watched the documentary and I couldn’t believe how much he went through at the time. In the documentary, Gary Neville speaks about how resilient he is as person and David explains a lot of how he dealt with it.
“He reminded me of the career I’ve had to date and the big moments I’ve had in my career. It was touching.
“When you’re going through tough moments, you’ve got to think of past experiences and past memories; where you’ve gone in your career and what you’ve been through.”
Maguire spoke publicly after the Scotland match, insisting he can handle the attention, and Sky Sports News reported last month the centre-back – who does not read social media or newspapers – backs himself to block everything out.
He reiterated that fact on Tuesday, but said his concern was more so for the affect the criticism has on his family and friends.
“I addressed it straight after the game, but playing for my country means absolutely everything to me. I’ve proven that over the years. I give everything on the pitch. It’s opposition fans, so it’s not something we can control,” he said.
“I’m an experienced player now and I know how to block it out and I know how to focus and concentrate and get through the games. It probably affects my family and my friends more than it actually affects me, especially when I’m playing in the game.
“I try and stay away from it all. You can’t stay away from it because your family and friends are probably seeing things and reading things; a lot more than I do, for sure.
“That’s football, that’s the way it works. Over a career, you don’t keep playing at the top and not get criticism – that doesn’t happen unless you are the best in the world – and that’s probably Ronaldo and Messi, even though they still get criticised as well. It’s expected.
“With the way the game’s going, especially for defenders and goalkeepers nowadays, every goal you concede is analysed. It can be tough at moments, but you’ve got to stay resilient and you know the next game is only around the corner and you’ve got to prove yourself again.
“You play football to create memories, not just for myself, but for my family and friends and the last year has probably been a little bit difficult for them to enjoy the games as they did in the previous eight or nine years of my career.
“I’m sure it will change. I’ll keep working hard and keep fighting for my place and keep trying to put things right.”
With both of the upcoming international fixtures being played at Wembley, Maguire lavished praise on the England fans for helping him through tough times.
“I’ve spoken about the England fans ever since I made my debut. They’ve been amazing with me,” he said.
“People always ask me how do I get the confidence and the belief to go out and play and do what I do and the England fans are a big part of that.
“When times have been tough over the past year, they’ve given me that support, they’ve given me that confidence that I deserve to be playing. I can’t thank them enough.”