Lincoln City ace Chris Maguire has stated that his celebration appearing to goad Lee Johnson was nothing more than ‘tongue in cheek’.
Maguire struck a hat-trick at the Stadium of Light last night, helping Lincoln to a 3-1 win over Johnson’s promotion-chasing side. Johnson was also dismissed from the touchline late on.
It was extra sweet for the forward, too, given that his time at Sunderland came to an end back in the summer – a decision made by Johnson.
After scoring his first shortly after the half-hour, Maguire celebrated in-front of Johnson in the technical area.
Following the game, Maguire was quick to try and extinguish any ill-feeling between himself and the Sunderland supporters, citing how a number of factors contributed to his celebration in-front of Johnson.
Speaking via the BBC, Maguire said: “You could probably say it was a little bit personal, with how my time here ended.
“I just do my talking on the pitch and I’ve done that again.
“It was a bit of tongue in cheek. He [Johnson] tried to get me sent off with my first tackle, and people at this ground know I like to wind up.
“I’ve great respect for the Sunderland fans – I loved my time here and it wasn’t to be disrespectful to them. I hope they can see that. I thought I was hard done by the last six months of my career.
“I played here for three years. It’s a great place to play football and an even better place to get three points and win a game of football.”
Quiz: Can you name which club Sunderland signed these 28 midfielders from?
The 32-year-old has scored four goals and registered five assists in 17 League One appearances for Lincoln since linking up with Michael Appleton’s side.
The deal that took him to Sincil Bank in the summer was seen as something of a coup, despite Johnson cutting ties with him in the North East.
Prior to arriving in Lincoln, Maguire struck 23 goals and registered 18 assists across three League One seasons for Sunderland.
Maguire will have meant no disrespect towards the Sunderland fans with his celebrations, but he clearly wanted to prove a point to Johnson.
That was evident with both his performance and celebration.
Johnson made the decision to let him go in the summer in a bid to try and get Sunderland to the next level, which isn’t going to have sat particularly well with Maguire.
His first return to the Stadium of Light was always likely to bring this kind of needle.
You don’t want to see things boil over as a result of celebrations like this, but it was a show of how much it mattered to Maguire. That’s something that’s lost in the modern game so, in some ways, it’s good to see.
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