England defender Maguire - from spectator in EURO 2016 to player in Russia 2018

Source: Xinhua| 2018-06-15 16:50:27|Editor: Li Xia
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MOSCOW, June 15 (Xinhua) -- Some former England players have spoken of the pressure of representing their country in major competitions meant they didn't enjoy their football and played below their best level.

Frank Lampard recently explained how the weight of expectation affected England in 2006 and 2010 and stopped them performing, although his midfield partner in the England side, Steven Gerrard believes that the current England squad is better equipped to deal with that pressure than any before, because they have grown up as part of the 'social media' generation.

"This is why these players are the best because they should be able to handle the scrutiny and that kind of pressure," said Gerrard, who was recently named coach of Glasgow Rangers.

One player who looks able to deal with the weight of expectation is central defender Harry Maguire, who knows exactly what the fans think, because he is one.

The 25-year-old, who is now at Leicester City, had just helped Hull City win promotion to the Premier League when he packed his bags and travelled to France to watch the 2016 European Championships.

"I had a few days spare in the summer so I thought there's nothing better than to go out there, to see the atmosphere. It was a great few days, to see the passion of the fans. It was a great experience and one I'd definitely do again," he told the 'Independent' newspaper.

Although he said a few supporters from Hull and Sheffield United (where he began his career) recognized him, Maguire said it was "nice to interact and be part of it and mingle in with the fans, just to see the experience. It was nice to be out there."

There are even photos of Maguire and his friends wearing England shirts after England's draw with Slovenia.

"I was a fan, I still am a fan and if I wasn't selected to be in the England squad this time I'd be there," he said.

"I'd be watching it on TV, gearing up for games, still getting nervous. I'm passionate about England and I always have been and now I'm looking forward to the tournament."

When England step out onto the pitch against Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18, Maguire will still be wearing his England shirt, but this time in a very different role.