LONDON, (AFP):- Manchester United and England defender Harry Maguire said on Thursday he was “scared” for his life and thought he was the victim of a kidnapping when he was arrested on a Greek holiday island.
The 27-year-old United captain was given a suspended sentence of 21 months and 10 days after being found guilty of repeated bodily harm, attempted bribery, violence against public employees and insult after his arrest on Mykonos.
However, Maguire told BBC Sport that plain-clothed police officers, who he says did not identify themselves, pulled over his group’s minibus, threw him off the vehicle and hit him in his legs.
Maguire said he tried to run away because he had no idea who the men were.
“They hit me a lot on the legs. I was in that much of a panic. Fear. Scared for my life,” he said.
The central defender said his “conscience is clear”.
“I don’t wish it on anybody. Obviously the situation has made it difficult for one of the biggest clubs in the world, so I regret putting the fans and the club through this, but I did nothing wrong,” he added.
“I found myself in a situation where it could have happened to anybody and anywhere.”
On Wednesday, Maguire’s legal team lodged an appeal against the verdict.
Under Greek law, the appeal nullifies the original conviction so there will be a full retrial.
Maguire’s brother Joe and friend Christopher Sharman were also found guilty on a range of charges and sentenced to 13 months in prison, suspended for three years.
The three men denied all the charges.
According to media reports, a fight started at a nightclub over claims Maguire’s younger sister Daisy had been injected with what the defence said was a suspected drug.
“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 added.
“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.”
Maguire said he had attempted to take his sister to a hospital because she appeared to be losing consciousness having been approached by two men.
He also denied attempting to bribe the police.
When asked about the allegation, he replied: “No, for sure. As soon as I saw that statement, it’s just ridiculous.”
England manager Gareth Southgate withdrew Maguire from his squad for the Nations League matches against Iceland and Denmark next month, having initially selected him on Tuesday.
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