Harry Maguire
In the last year or so, Harry Maguire has been the subject of regular criticism from fans and pundits with many feeling he should not be playing for England. Alberto Lingria/Reuters

Manchester United star Harry Maguire has risked facing more backlash from English fans after claiming they aren't "real fans" because "proper fans don't boo players".

Maguire's comments came after former Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson was booed by fans during England's 3-1 win over Italy at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday in the Euro 2024 qualifiers. Henderson, who is being targeted due to his move to Saudi Arabia, was also jeered in England's 1-0 win in a friendly match over Australia earlier this month.

"Proper England fans don't boo players. Don't boo players who dedicate their life to play and do everything they can to make this country have good memories and special moments for them and the fans and their families," Maguire said in an interview.

Adding further, Maguire said that he knows a lot of top England fans who have supported him from the beginning of his international career.

"They're right behind me and they're right behind Jordan as well. You heard a lot of cheers and yes, a few jeers, but they aren't England fans," the Man Utd defender added.

Ahead of the 2023-24 campaign, Henderson switched from Liverpool to Al-Ettifaq, a club that competes in the Saudi Pro League. Henderson's move did not go down well with England's LGBT+ supporters' group, with their spokesperson stating that the English midfielder should not be surprised by the boos.

Henderson had been a strong backer of the LGBT+ community but then he chose to move to Saudi Arabia, a country where homosexuality is illegal and there are poor human rights standards.

"To say fans who follow this team loyally home and away, and at great personal expense, are not 'proper' fans gatekeeps the game. Gatekeeping football to what a player believes makes a 'proper' fan harks back to a time where LGBT+ fans weren't welcome and excludes people from the beautiful game," a spokesman for Three Lions Pride said.

The spokesperson also pointed out that "fans are the soul of the game" and without them, "there is no atmosphere". The anonymous person also stated that no fan wishes to boo a player of a team they so strongly support but when Henderson is being booed, if indicates what everyone's "feeling around the issue and Henderson's choices".

"It is clear that it is not just LGBT+ fans who think that he is a Saudi sell-out," the spokesperson added.

Maguire, who has stood up for his England teammate Henderson, has himself been booed by Manchester United and English supporters over the past year. Last year in March, Henderson was among the players who came in support for the Manchester United star. "What happened tonight was just wrong," Henderson wrote in a social media post, after Maguire was booed during England's meeting with Ivory Coast.

Last month Southgate branded criticism of Maguire as "a joke", and his mother Zoe described the abuse he has received as "disgraceful".

Southgate also slammed England fans for going after Henderson. After England's recent win over Australia, Southgate said he did not understand the cause of the reaction.

With five wins and a draw, Harry Kane-led England have 16 points from six matches and are at the top of Group C in the ongoing Euro qualifiers. The meeting with Italy was England's final match of October's international break. The Three Lions will next be in action on Nov. 17 when they host Malta at the Wembley Stadium in the Euro qualifiers.

Maguire and Henderson have been teammates in England since 2017 when the centre-back made his senior debut for his country.

Henderson, meanwhile, made his England debut in 2010 and he has notched up 80 caps with the Three Lions so far, having netted three goals as well.