‘That felt like a proper football match, that was the atmosphere we were missing’
Goals from Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane in the final 15 minutes gave the Three Lions their first major tournament knockout victory over Germany since 1966, sending them through to the quarter-finals.
It came in front of 41,973 raucous fans at Wembley, as life returned to something like normal in the biggest attendance for a football match in this country since the coronavirus pandemic struck 15 months ago.
The noise sounded like there was double that number as both goals and the full-time whistle were greeted with an incredible din and Maguire said it felt like a “proper football match”.
The Manchester United defender was also happy to give something back to the fans following a difficult time.
“First and foremost to have the fans, that felt like a proper football match, the first time I have felt it in a long time, that was the atmosphere we were missing and the atmosphere football deserves,” he said.
“It is magnificent to get the fans back in the stadium, of course to put a smile on their faces after a tough couple of years for everyone in the country.
“We knew the pressure of coming out at Wembley against Germany. We knew we had to win the game, we did it with a great performance, a controlled performance and a magnificent victory and a big celebration in the end.
“It is a magnificent night for everyone involved who follows this country, we put a smile on a lot of people’s faces, that’s what we do, that’s why we play football.
“But come Saturday we know it is business again and we can take the momentum and confidence from the deserved victory we have managed to get.”
Maguire hailed boss Gareth Southgate’s tactical masterplan during the win.
Southgate, whose side had not conceded a goal during the group stage with a back four, changed formation to a back three to try and counteract Germany’s threat from wide.
There were a few hairy moments as Timo Werner and Thomas Muller missed big chances, but England looked in relative control throughout the game.
Maguire, who was named as man of the match, said beating Germany “means everything” and credited the tactical switch.
“I am not going to play it down, it means everything to beat them, we know they are a good team with excellent players and a great style of play and we changed our formation to counteract that,” the Manchester United defender said.
“We wanted to be aggressive all over the pitch, we wanted to be brave on the ball, take the ball and we wanted to be brave off the ball and try as much as we can to play one v one and have that pressure on the ball and not give them too much space out wide, which they have punished teams in the group stage for.
“Credit to the coaching staff and Gareth to recognise that, the game plan worked brilliantly and we executed it really well.”
England’s landmark victory sets up a last-eight meeting with either Sweden or Ukraine in Rome on Saturday, with the Three Lions now the highest-ranked team in their side of the draw.
Maguire says that counts for nothing and the Three Lions cannot allow complacency to creep in.
“I think before the game you could hear people talking about the side of the draw,” he said. “The side of the draw means absolutely nothing, you have seen in recent matches in this tournament, if you don’t play to a level you will get punished because every team that is left in this tournament at this stage is an excellent team and has quality players.
“We are fully focused on ourselves, we don’t get carried away, if we don’t perform, we’ll lose the football match and if we do we will give ourselves the best opportunity of winning the match.
“Every game is big, it doesn’t matter who you play at this level, every game is big and means something.”