“I thought we were getting kidnapped. We got down on our knees, we put our hands in the air, they just started hitting us. They were hitting my leg saying my career’s over, ‘No more football. You won’t play again.”
Last Updated: 27/08/20 10:40pm
Manchester United captain Harry Maguire says he feared for his life and thought he was being kidnapped during his arrest in Greece.
Manchester United said on Wednesday Maguire no longer had a criminal record and was was free to travel internationally, while he awaits a full re-trial in a more senior court – which is unlikely to happen until the new year at the earliest.
The club said the legal appeal now “extinguishes” the verdict of the Syros court, and “nullifies” his conviction.
“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,” he told BBC Sport.
“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.
The 27-year-old 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.”
The world’s most expensive defender was dropped from Gareth Southgate’s England squad having initially been convicted.
He insists he has no reason to apologise for the incident but expressed regret at causing potential embarrassment to his club.
“It was horrible. It’s not something I ever want to do again. I don’t wish it on anybody. It’s the first time I’ve ever been inside a prison,” he said.
“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. I play for one of the biggest clubs in the world, I regret putting the fans and the club through this.
“I think it could have happened anywhere. I love Greece, I think us footballers get a bit of stick for trying to stay away from everything. It’s not how I want to live my life.”
Maguire was given a 21-month suspended prison sentence on Tuesday after being convicted, along with his brother, 28-year-old Joe Maguire, and family friend Christopher Sharman, 29, of aggravated assault and the attempted bribery of an official.
He was arrested with his brother and their friend after a fight broke out while he was on holiday in Mykonos. All three men denied all charges.
Former Sheffield United, Hull and Leicester player Maguire is not certain he will remain United captain but is positive he will now be given a fair hearing.
“It’s a massive privilege to play for the club, never mind to be captain. It’s not my decision to make,” he said.
“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.”
Maguire’s conviction ‘no longer recognised in law’
Explaining Maguire’s appeal process, leading barrister Paula Rhone-Adrien told the PA news agency: “Yes, the proceedings have been nullified, but this simply means the conviction is no longer recognised in law.
“Maguire is going to be given an opportunity to state why the court was wrong to have found him guilty. Everyone is entitled to a right to appeal a decision made against them.”
This, “in essence”, means Maguire is innocent unless the appeal hearing finds him guilty.
Mrs Rhone-Adrien said: “It’s a complete retrial and he will even be able to adduce fresh evidence if he needs to.”
The appeal will be heard by Greece’s indictment division and could in theory, although unlikely, take place on the mainland. Maguire could choose to appear personally or appear through his legal team.
The appeals process in Greece is a long one and some cases can take one to three years to go through the system “depending on the offence, the location of the court and whether or not the defendant is in custody,” Mrs Rhone-Adrien said.