He has the potential to succeed

Harry Maguire may be just 21 but arrives at Hull with more than 160 appearances in senior football under his belt and has been a standout performer in the third tier of English football over the past few years, writes David Conway.

When it comes to Premier League defenders, Steve Bruce knows more than most about what it takes to be a success. The former centre-back progressed through the lower leagues of English football to captain Manchester United to the double. Now, as manager of Hull, he hopes to help Harry Maguire follow a similar career path after snapping up the Sheffield United youngster recently.

Maguire may be just 21 but arrives at Hull with more than 160 appearances in senior football under his belt and has been a standout performer in the third tier of English football over the past few years. Now he finds himself up against some of the world’s best players after making the step up to the Premier League. Challenges like this separate the average players from the standout players and Bruce believes Maguire has the potential to succeed.

Maguire has spent his entire career so far with Sheffield United, growing in strength as he progressed through the youth ranks. He made his first-team debut in April 2011 and he immediately impressed after coming on as a half-time substitute against Cardiff.

Maguire established himself as a first-team regular during the following season and, as a local boy, proved popular with the fans. After a number of impressive displays he was handed a contract extension until 2015 as he played a key role in the club’s push for promotion to the Championship.

The partnership of Maguire and Neil Collins made the Blades difficult to beat and they looked on course for automatic promotion but the season ended with double disappointment.

Sheffield United were pipped to runners-up spot by bitter rivals Sheffield Wednesday which consigned them to the play-offs, and they were then beaten in the play-off final by Huddersfield at Wembley after a penalty shootout.

To his credit, Maguire held his nerve to convert his spot-kick but the Blades were edged out in a dramatic shootout which saw all 22 outfield players take a penalty.

There was success on a personal level for Maguire at least as he was named ‘Player of the Year’ and ‘Young Player of the Year’ at the club’s end-of-season awards and several EPL clubs were now tracking his progress.

By the age of 19, Maguire had completed a century of first-team appearances but the 2012/13 season ended in heartbreak again as Sheffield United were beaten in the play-off semifinal by Yeovil.

This time there was a play-off hangover and Sheffield United found themselves near the bottom of the League One table for the first half of the season before the appointment of Nigel Clough as manager, who turned their fortunes around.

Victories over Fulham and Aston Villa helped the Blades reach the semifinals of the FA Cup but their Wembley hoodoo then continued with defeat to Maguire’s new club Hull.

Maguire was again named ‘Player of the Year’ and received his first England under-21 call-up as rival clubs stepped up their interest in him.

A bid of GBP1 million from Wolves was rejected and Sheffield United were desperate to keep their star-man but his head was turned by the prospect of playing in the EPL and Hull’s GBP2.5 million was reluctantly accepted.

At such a young age he faces a battle for first-team football but with Hull also competing in Europe this season, there are sure to be opportunities for Maguire to impress.

“I know it’s a massive step but it’s one I’m ready for,” Maguire said. “I’ll be playing against some of the biggest players in the world but I wouldn’t make the step if I didn’t think I could cope with it. The gaffer being here is a big influence for why I chose this club. He was a great player in his time and played in my position really well. I’m sure throughout the season I’ll be learning a lot from him and he can make me into a very good player here.”

FACTFILE PLAYER: Harry Maguire. POSITION: Centre-back. CLUB: Hull City. DOB: 5/3/93.

MOMENT TO REMEMBER: Making his League One debut as a 19-year-old.

MOMENT TO FORGET: Suffering defeat to Hull in the FA Cup semifinal last season.

PA Sport