“Last night hurt…” Harry Maguire told the football world on August 17.
Manchester United had been eliminated from the Europa League by Sevilla the previous evening, ending their hopes of lifting any silverware for the 2019/20 season.
“Time to go away, reflect, recover,” Maguire added, promising readers that his team would return stronger than ever.
Less than 96 hours later, the Old Trafford captain was being thrown into cells by Greek police.
On the night of 21 August, Maguire, his brother and a friend became embroiled in a drunken brawl with another group whilst holidaying on the island of Mykonos.
In the space of seven days, Maguire has since been arrested, tried, found guilty of assault and bribery, and launched an appeal to maintain his innocence.
It’s been a whirlwind week that’s stunned the football world.
The upshot, so far, has been a 21-month prison sentence for Maguire, suspended for three years, and an ignominious removal from the England squad (which will surely be temporary).
But the case has also tattered the ‘model pro’ reputation Maguire was given by some media outlets.
Footballers misbehaving abroad is nothing new. But for some, the biggest shock of the whole ordeal is the fact that it’s wholesome character Maguire at the centre of it all.
There are two very different sides to the story of what happened that night – and the United star maintains he and his family are “victims”.
On Thursday 21 August, plain clothes officers rushed in to halt a brawl which had broken out between two groups at a bar in Mykonos.
The confrontation was taking place between Maguire, his brother and their friend and some “Albanian” men.
Maguire’s group said they had approached two males after spotting them “inject” Maguire’s sister, Daisy, with a “rape drug”.
Daisy’s eyes were said to be “rolling back”, and Maguire bundled her into a minivan so she could return to the villa or a local hospital.
An argument then ensued, but with no CCTV footage of the incident, it’s quickly become a classic case of ‘he-said, she-said’.
According to Greek police, Maguire started “pushing and hitting three police officers” when they arrived on the scene.
Maguire was arrested and accused of pushing one officer to the ground as he tried to resist (according to police).
After arriving at the station, a group of men nearby allegedly told Maguire “Your career is over”, before kicking his legs.
Police have offered a different version of events, even stating that Maguire attempted to bribe them by saying: “Please, let me go, I am very rich, I can pay, I am the leader of Manchester United.”
In court, Maguire was found guilty of repeated bodily harm, attempted bribery, violence against public employees and insult.
Still, the £80m defender maintains the accusations are wrong, and his legal team have since launched an appeal.
A Manchester United statement said: “Harry has no criminal record and is once again presumed innocent until proven guilty. Accordingly, he is not subject to any international travel restrictions.”
Maguire himself has so far refused to speak to the press about the incident, and has still not posted on Twitter since expressing his pain at United’s European exit.
Little did he know that this period of reflection would go so horribly wrong.
The five-a-side app that’s helping people find pick-up football games in Manchester and all over the UK
Having a kick about is one of life’s simple pleasures. Just grab a ball, your boots, some mates and you’re good to go, right? That is until the inevitable excuses pop up on WhatsApp with an hour to go and suddenly you’re scrambling for a ringer to keep your so-called ‘weekly’ five-a-side match alive.
Another night is followed by the usual “Sorry, maybe next week” message and you’re left wondering why getting a footy game going with few friends isn’t as easy as it was when you were younger. If only there was an app for that…
For those in the know, there is one name that’s actually helping make sorting a regular five-a-side night or even a quick pick-up game in and around Greater Manchester that little bit easier and more social than ever.
Footy Addicts, the football-based social networking platform, are on a mission to make the beautiful game easier and more inclusive across the region and the UK at large.
The app, founded by self-proclaimed footy addicts Konstantinos Gkortsilas, Danny Taeidy and Jonathan Suarez, aims to make quality football matches — be it a straight-forward five/seven-a-side game or a bigger affair — happen across Great Britain and, if they carry on how they’re going, the world.
When you sit and think about it, it’s one of these ideas where you wonder, ‘How hasn’t this been thought of before?’ From the first unofficial pick-up game back in 2010 to what has now grown to a community of over 210,000 users across 140 active locations, the proof is in the pudding.
Not only is the demand obviously there but it just goes to show how important opportunity and accessibility are when it comes to playing the game so many of us love.
Footy Addicts’ biggest goal is ensuring that wherever you are, you’ll only be a button away from a game — and the stats don’t lie. Now growing by a rate of more than 5,000 new users each month with players from over 200 different countries, it just goes to show how a simple kickabout can help enrich diverse communities a game at a time.
Whether you are a first-timer, Sunday league Messi or ‘could’ve gone pro if it wasn’t for my knee’, there’s a spot on the team sheet for all abilities.
Just to highlight some of the regulars in the Manchester scene, this could be your squad lining up alongside you next time you stick a bib on under the lights: lifelong Burnley supporter James is still going strong at 70 and nutmegging students. You can’t drag him away from the pitch.
Marc used to ply his trade in the Premier League but now gets his football fix in a more casual setting and Nadia is a semi-pro female footballer who’ll happily show up the best of them.
The importance of running around after a ball for an hour or so is far more than the scoreline; it’s like therapy for the mind and body. The escapism, confidence and community that blossoms when you step on a pitch is what keeps the world hooked on the beautiful game. And, that’s not to mention the obvious physical benefits.
Available to download from the Google Play and Apple App Store, or by simply using their website, it’s not quite as easy as clicking your fingers but it’s close enough.
It goes without saying that Footy Addicts organise games all over Manchester. Just whack in your postcode and see if there is a place and time that suits you. It’s also pay-as-you-play, with no monthly subscriptions or signing-on fees, just dust off your boots and head down.
Prices start at only £3.50 a game with the average price of around a fiver, which in this day and age is great value for footy.
See you on a pitch in Greater Manchester sometime soon.
André Onana’s emotional reaction at full-time turns fan frustration into sympathy after another Man United UCL collapse
André Onana has had a rocky start to life at Manchester United and while supporters have been left swearing from the stands and at their TV screens several times already this season, his reaction at full-time following his latest howler has seen much of that frustration turn to sympathy.
The Cameroonian goalkeeper made yet another costly error on Wednesday night when his lack of concentration saw Man United’s 2-0 lead, thanks to two very fine finishes from Alejandro Garnacho and Bruno Fernandes, somehow turn to 3-1 and eventually 3-3 — two of which were very preventable.
Onana was left unsighted by the wall and wrong-footed for the first goal which was whipped in from a Hakim Ziyech free-kick, but was left blushing even more when an almost identical delivery was fired at him in the second half, only to effectively push it into his own net and reduce the Red Devil’s two-goal cushion to one.
As commentator Darren Fletcher and pretty much everyone watching said at the time, “What on Earth is the Manchester United keeper doing there?!”. It really doesn’t make for great viewing…
Although mistakes like these could be forgiven in isolation, as one-offs or more widely spread out over a longer period of — many Reds had grown accustomed to watching their previous number one, David de Gea, making a gaffe or two in his time — for all of them to happen in the space of just a few months doesn’t help.
In the Champions League alone, Onana has seven individual unforced errors leading to goals (four more than any other player) and in a knockout competition against the best teams in Europe, you simply don’t have enough games to make up for mistakes like that.
That being said, as opposed to the usual reaction from supporters on social media that we have seen so far this season, a large proportion of fans and neutrals alike weren’t berating him but were instead expressing their sympathy — especially after seeing Onana‘s visibly upset reaction after full-time:
On the other hand, not everyone was so forgiving and to further sum up how things are going for the United keeper, both in terms of his bad luck and the pity plenty are now starting to feel for him, there were countless posts online dubbing him “the new [Harry] Maguire”, who had previously been a scapegoat and a target of abuse at both club and international level.
In contrast, while the England centre-backs’s performances have started to improve, a goalkeeper’s mistakes are always going to be even more highlighted as although defenders usually have the man between the sticks as a last stand, when it goes wrong it usually results in conceding a goal.