Cristian Romero claims he had no ‘ill will’ when he mocked Harry Maguire last month and feels the Manchester United captain is a ‘great player’.
The Argentine, who has excelled since joining Tottenham from Atalanta, came under fire for his response to Maguire’s own goal during Spurs’ March visit to Old Trafford.
Late in the game, Sergio Reguilon sent a cross into the box that was deflected beyond David de Gea by a desperate Maguire to tie the score, with Romero shouting in his counterpart’s face when the ball found the back of the net.
However, United and Maguire ultimately had the last laugh as Cristiano Ronaldo evaded Romero from a corner to complete his hat-trick and secure a 3-2 victory.
‘I think sometimes things happen in football and maybe if you capture a moment with a single photo it can seem like something that wasn’t really happening,’ Romero told The Athletic.
‘I’ve got nothing but respect for Harry Maguire. He’s a top player who is having a great career.
‘And generally, I always respect my opponents so I think people who don’t know about the game get hold of a story and run with it and talk about something that’s not really there.
‘Maybe on that occasion, I didn’t quite do the right thing but I had no bad intentions.’
Since the win, United have been booted out of the Champions League by Atletico Madrid, drawn at home by Leicester, and then lost 1-0 to relegation-threatened Everton on Saturday.
Tottenham, on the other hand, have collected a maximum 12 points from their remaining four matches since losing to United, scoring 14 goals, and currently have a three-point cushion in fourth place with a favorable run-in of fixtures.