MANCHESTER, England — Manchester United captain Harry Maguire defended his actions in Greece that led to him being charged with assaulting a police officer and attempted bribery, saying Thursday that he thought he was being kidnapped and feared for his life.
Maguire was convicted and handed a suspended 21-month sentence by a Greek court on Tuesday but was granted a retrial after lodging a successful appeal.
Maguire made his first public comments about the incident on the island of Mykonos in an interview with the BBC, saying plain-clothed police officers pulled him and a friend out of a minivan they were travelling in and started hitting them.
“My initial thought, I thought we were getting kidnapped. We got down on our knees, we put our hands in the air, they just started hitting us,” Maguire said. "They were hitting my leg saying my career’s over: ‘No more football. You won’t play again.'
“And at this point I thought there is no chance these are police or I don’t know who they are so I tried to run away, I was in that much of a panic, fear, scared for my life. All the way through it.”
Maguire claimed that incident took place outside a police station after he attempted to take his younger sister Daisy to a hospital because she appeared to be losing consciousness having been approached by two men during a night out.
The 27-year-old centre back denied attempting to bribe the police.
When asked about that, he replied: “No, for sure. As soon as I saw that statement, it’s just ridiculous.”
Maguire was dropped from Gareth Southgate’s England squad having initially been included before his conviction on Tuesday.
He insisted he has no reason to apologize for the incident, but expressed regret at causing potential embarrassment to his club.
“I don’t feel like I owe an apology to anybody. An apology is something when you’ve done something wrong or regret. I regret being in the situation," Maguire said, adding that he is confident he will be cleared in the retrial. “I have great faith in the Greek law, the retrial will give us more time to prepare, gather the evidence, allow witnesses into the court. And I am really confident that the truth will be told and come out.”
Speaking of the initial incident with his sister, Maguire said: “These two men approached my little sister, asked her where she was from. She responded and then my fiancee, Fern, has seen my little sister’s eyes go into the back of her head. She ran over and she was fainting, she was in and out of consciousness.”
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