Quotes on: Wayne Rooney


“I first came up against him when he’d come on at Old Trafford for Everton, and he just skipped past me, and I just thought, “Ooh, who’s this?” He was just 16 or 17 at the time and everyone was after him, so it was great to see him come to United, because I’d seen first hand how tough it was to play against him.” Ryan Giggs

“There are players that have fire in them and he’s one of them. Take it out of him and you won’t get the same player. It’s about striking a balance. Roy Keane was the same, as was Paul Ince. You just hope the character of the player and the experiences of playing create that balance.” — Ryan Giggs

“He’s got everything, he’s tough, he’s quick, he scores goals, he can make goals. He’s a winner.” — Ryan Giggs

“If I’ve seen anyone more confident (than Eric Cantona) on a football field, it’s Wayne. He’s just so strong, he’s got pace and, like Eric, he does things which he makes look easy but which are really hard. The first thing I noticed about him was his control and his movement, his ability to turn as he’s controlling the ball. And he’s got great power and a great shot. When he signed from Everton the whole dressing room was excited. We’re players, but we’re fans as well — and like fans, we want United to get the best players.” — Ryan Giggs

“I don’t think you will find a better debut than that. It was not just his goals but his all-round performance. To score a hat-trick in your first match for Manchester United is a very special feat but Wayne’s display was even more unbelievable because of the circumstances. He’s 18, it was his first taste of the Champions League and he hadn’t played for three months. It’s the sort of start you normally only dream of. His performance was outstanding but it was his sharpness that impressed me most. The first game back after a long injury lay-off is normally hard work but he made it look embarrassingly easy. I was shocked that he was able to complete the whole 90 minutes. The quality of his performance has to rank as nothing short of brilliant.” — Ryan Giggs

“He has got a bit of everything. He has embraced the role of captaining his country and then being United’s captain. He has been so consistent after starting out at such a young age.” — Ryan Giggs

Rooney celebrating one of his three goals on his fairy-tale Manchester United debut in 2004.
Rooney celebrating one of his three goals on his fairy-tale Manchester United debut in 2004.

“Rooney has the same bullish look as Gazza when he came through. He runs at players in the same way. He has great control and a great shot with both feet and he scares defenders. He showed that in Euro 2004 and he’ll do that in the Premiership and Champions League. To score a hat-trick on his debut is special.” David Beckham

“There are certain players you play with throughout your career that you like playing with for different reasons. Wayne hits all those reasons. You knew he would run through a brick for you, for himself, for the team, for the fans. That’s the type of player you want playing for England.” — David Beckham

“As a player he’s got everything. He can play deep, left, right or in the middle. He scores goals inside the area but can also score from outside the box. As if that wasn’t enough, he sometimes plays in goal in training.” — Wes Brown

“He’s an excellent player, he proves that week in, week out. The thing about Wayne is that it’s so easy to forget that he’s only just turned 20. He’s still only a young man, yet he plays and has the strength of a seasoned professional. I watch so many games from Holland, Germany and Spain but I haven’t seen a young player who is as good or as mature as he is. He’s an exceptional talent and there’s better to come as he matures.” — Ruud van Nistelrooy (2006)

“He was the kid of England, everyone loved him. He was so powerful I was calling him ‘Pitbull.’ The power of Wayne Rooney is his mentality and strength and he never stops. He’s a fantastic team player and he scores. He’s a fantastic boy and he helped me a lot when he came to join us in Manchester.” Cristiano Ronaldo

“I’ve had the pleasure to play alongside Wayne and for me he’s England’s best EVER. I’ve seen first hand him do things with the ball that I’ve never seen before.” John Terry

“Wayne is our leader. He is the best English player in English history and we are lucky to have him.” — Ander Herrera

“He’s a terrific player who has won loads of trophies. He has played at an unbelievably high level for many years, scoring loads of goals in important games. He’s a leader and our captain. He’s a leader and gives advice to the team when he thinks he needs to. He knows when the time is right and when we need to raise our game. He’s been in this position for many years at the highest level – he knows what to do and when to do it. That’s why he’s the captain of his club and country and rightly so.” — Phil Jones

“He inspires others in the way he plays. His technical ability is huge and his passing and finishing is fantastic, but his passion for the game is amazing. Some players might get older and their passion fades away but that’s not the case with him. His passion is getting stronger and stronger every day. In training, he always wants to win and in matches, of course. He’s a great lad, an unbelievable player and probably one of those who will go down as an all-time great for Manchester United.” — Phil Jones

“I’d seen him (with the England national team before Rooney signed for Manchester United), and he did a couple of things in training that just took your breath away, and you thought “Wow, this is special.”” Rio Ferdinand

“He brings a lot more to the team than just goals; he brings other people into the game, he can set up scoring opportunities, and his work rate is up there with the best of them. Even if he isn’t scoring goals, many defenders don’t like playing against him.” — Rio Ferdinand

“He can do everything – that’s the thing about him. He can play in the hole as a No 10 or he can be the No 9. He’s cute up top as well – he’s got a great understanding of the game.” — Rio Ferdinand

“I could go on all day about Wayne because he’s such a big talent. He’s going to keep breaking records and I’m just glad he’s English.” Steven Gerrard

“In years to come anyone who is looking at records and looks at goals and caps, Wayne Rooney’s name will come up and I think he deserves both accolades.” — Steven Gerrard

“His aggression is one of his big strengths. He has no fear at all. Wayne knows he has the ability, but he has this knack of being able to go out there and not be scared of anyone no matter who he is up against.” Frank Lampard

“Wayne came into the England team at an even younger age than I did. If you play well and keep your form, you are going to play a lot of games for your country. And with the ability Wayne has, that means many more goals and many more records.” — Michael Owen (2005)

Opponents and other players

“Wayne Rooney is for me a once in a generation player. One of those special players, who is not comparable to any other. There are many special players, but Rooney has exceptional quality and technical ability as well as being one of the strongest players I have faced with an exceptional work rate – there is nobody like him.” Lionel Messi

“We all know football players at the top level are blessed with high wages, it’s no secret. But Rooney would play for 100 euros-a-week. You can see the fire in his eyes. It’s that fire which makes him the best of the best. His love for the game is natural. It’s like a father’s love for his son. He doesn’t need to convince himself he loves football – it was what he was born to do.” — Lionel Messi

“It would be a dream to play with Rooney if Manchester United ever came to the point where they needed to sell him. I would personally go to the Barcelona president and ask that he be signed myself.” — Lionel Messi

“There are always a handful of players in the world at any one time who can go down in the footballing history books. At the moment, there are maybe Ronaldo, Rooney, Xavi and one or two more – but I can’t think of one that plays with the desire of Rooney.” — Lionel Messi (2010)

“Rooney is one of the best players in the world. He’s already very important, but in the future his contribution is going to be even greater.” Ronaldinho (2004)

“You [ . . . ] have to say that’s as good as anything you’ve ever seen. He’s just getting better and better. The lovely thing about him is his temperament – he loves the big stage and the sky is the limit for him, it really is. He’s got to maintain that level of performance but there’s no reason why he shouldn’t. He’s got everything going for him, he’s looking the complete player at 18 years of age. He can handle himself, he has two good feet, he’s good in the air. He’s got it all.” George Best (2004)

“For me, Rooney is not the player who scores 40 goals a season. But he is the player who helps his partner score lots of goals because he is working for one, two and maybe three other players. It seems like he has a strong mentality to win – like me he doesn’t like to lose.” — Zlatan Ibrahimovic

“He runs a lot, he fights a lot, he sacrifices a lot. [ . . .] I’d prefer to have him in my team than play against him. I’ve not been lucky enough to play with him but I enjoy seeing him on the pitch – if I cannot play with him, I will watch him.” — Zlatan Ibrahimovic

“Wayne Rooney is a player I have admired for a long time. He is an extraordinary player with extraordinary capabilities.” Xavi

“You get to an age and you can’t play the game you once used to, you can’t cover the ground you used to. But intelligent players adapt and there’s no doubting Rooney has a very good footballing brain. [ . . . ] Rooney would be very dangerous in a deeper role. He has the vision and the passing range to play that role very well. If he can adapt, there’s no reason why he can’t play at the top level for another five or six seasons.” — Xavi

“The biggest thing I can say about Rooney is that he has the potential to be a legendary player. Pele had all the ability in the world. But one of his great qualities was that he could take anything and any situation in his stride. From the little I have seen of Wayne, I think he can do that too.” — Zico (2004)

“He’s not Manchester’s biggest star, but he has the most energy of their players. Like me, he attacks, but he defends too when his team lose possession. This is important. It’s not all about the glory of goals.” — Samuel Eto’o (2008)

“Rooney can do the lot. Eventually he’ll have all the United records. He has the ability and goal power to beat my 18 hat-tricks and, as for my 46 in a season, I don’t see any reason why he can’t overtake that. Every time he gets the ball there’s a buzz of expectation from the crowd and opposition defenders are in a panic.” — Denis Law (2004)

“I have always said that Wayne Rooney is an amazing player, the kind of striker which any team in the world would like to have. He has the sort of forward’s instinct which you cannot buy and no coach can teach. You are born with it. Of course you also need good team-mates around you to give you the ball and help set up chances. And Rooney has those players at Manchester United. But I like the sort of striker who will score all on his own if he wants to [ . . . ] He can shoot from distance, get on the end of crosses, hit free-kicks – anything. He’s not the same type of finisher as Michael Owen or Ruud van Nistelrooy but he is definitely the sort of player I would pay to watch. He is someone who plays with absolutely no fear and when you have a striker like that then there are no limits. English football is very fortunate to have such a great striker.” Thierry Henry

“You will only truly appreciate Rooney when he has retired. It’s a shame but it’s always like that. I would absolutely urge all those youngsters in the squad, such as Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane, to watch and learn off Rooney from this day onwards. They are extremely lucky to be on the same training pitch as this guy and they must make the most of it. It will be a real waste if they do not. They must try to copy him. In terms of his dedication and the way he plays. I would also say this to the young lads at Manchester United. To play well for six months or a season in football is nothing. To do so for over a decade like Rooney is extraordinary. I know what it takes and it isn’t easy. Trust me, people talk about him outside of this country. In Spain and France, he is appreciated as a top, top player.” — Thierry Henry

“No player in modern football can match his efficiency and work-rate, and he’s not egotistical like many men of his speciality. He’s the sort of magnificent team player every coach wants in his starting XI.” — Andriy Shevchenko

“Rooney is the archetypal modern attacker. He is more than a striker, so he should not be compared  with ‘strikers’. He marks his generation. He’s very polyvalent and a fantastic team player – a dream for any coach. He scores goals and is a real finisher. He has fantastic vision, too. I like the fact that he is capable of recovering the ball, too. If you observe his gestures during a game it makes you think that as well as being a striker he could easily be a defender. He ranks among the best strikers of today’s generation [ . . . ]” — David Ginola

“Although he might not have the brute power of Drogba or natural goal instinct of Torres, his all-round ability means if I had £60million to spend on anyone in the Premier League, he’d be the striker I’d go for. Rooney is three world-class players in one and doesn’t have an identifiable weakness, which is incredible for a player who has just turned 24. I hadn’t even won my first England cap at that age. He is the consistent goalscorer whose ratio for Manchester United and England is the ‘magic’ one-in-two only the best strikers achieve. He is the pure footballer who can unlock a defence with a killer pass or create space with a sudden clever movement. And he is the unselfish team player who works harder than anyone else and can play anywhere on the pitch to help the cause; able to drop into midfield, go wide, operate as a lone striker or play in the hole, whatever the manager requires. [ . . . ] Talent-wise, Rooney has everything and [ . . . ] I’ve never seen anyone create space for himself so well on a pitch.” — Gary Lineker (2009)

“I’d always looked at his overall play and regarded him as an all-rounder rather than a striker. His game’s never just been based on the goals he gets. I still think that even though he’s become more of a striker since Ronaldo left. [ . . . ] He’s got just about everything. He’s powerful, he can head the ball, he can pass the ball, he can win the ball – and, of course, he can score goals. Also, importantly, he’s a winner.” — Ian Rush

“He is certainly world class. It the consistent level of performance that he gives you that puts him up there along with his ability. He is not just a goal scorer having in the past been more of a provider. Now he is the main goal scorer who provides goals for other people as well.” — Les Ferdinand

“One of the biggest problems for Wayne has been where to play him in the team. He is such a wonderful footballer and when you have got such a talent you have to find the right position for them. Wayne has played on the left, behind the striker and up front on his own. He is pretty much like Roy of the Rovers, he has played everywhere. [ . . . ] We have seen him score the special ones from outside the area but he can get the bread and butter ones as well. Perhaps, in a funny way, Ronaldo leaving the club has helped Wayne. Ronaldo is a world class player but quite often it was the Cristiano show. Perhaps Wayne though he had to up his game to compensate and he has done it fantastically well.” — Tony Cottee

Coaches and managers

“The first time I realised how special he could be was when I took an under-11 team to play Manchester United. It was eight-a-side on small pitches with small goals. All the parents were on one side of the pitch with the coaches on the other. At 11, Wayne scored an overhead kick from about 15 yards out that flew straight into the top corner. There was a silence around the pitch. I don’t know where it came from but someone started clapping and within seconds everyone was clapping – including the parents from the other team.” — Ray Hall, Everton Academy Director

“He was a great talent, he really was, and he’s gone on to do great things in football. He’s been someone who the English public has looked to to really drive the national team on. We (Everton) had a great time with him.” — David Moyes

“We had him in training (at Everton), he was only a young boy. We’d set up a small-sided game and Wayne was obviously involved in it, and he chipped the goalkeeper nearly from the byline. It was a moment where we all looked at each other and said, ‘Did he really do that? Did that happen?’ It was a great moment, and everyone said to themselves — we knew it before, but when we saw that we thought there’s a really special talent here.” — David Moyes

“We tried to sign him when he was 14, but he didn’t want to leave at the time, he was at the Academy at Everton. [ . . . ] All our scouting reports on him were fantastic; (we knew about) his natural ability, his energy, his enthusiasm to play the game, and these are all important issues when you’re looking to spend money on a player, and he had these fantastic qualities.” Sir Alex Ferguson

“There isn’t another player in the world who has the ability Wayne has. He’s achieved so much at a young age – he’s the main man for club and country. He astounds me. He is a phenomenon.” — Sir Bobby Robson

“Rooney is the biggest England talent I’ve seen since I arrived in England. There has certainly not been a player under 20 as good as him since I became a manager here.” — Arsene Wenger (2002)

“He’s a young player with remarkable physical and creative power. He has belief and determination and the physical ability to achieve what he sets out to do.” — Arsene Wenger (2004)

“Rooney could be another George Best, I have no doubt. England is in need of a big, big star and he has what you need from that player. Would I like to work with Wayne Rooney? Who wouldn’t want to work with him. We all like to work with exceptional talent.” — Arsene Wenger

“When he’s at the top of his game he is the sort of player who can really make a difference, he is the best player in the team, but he can be difficult to understand. You can’t predict everything he will do in a game, he can do something fantastic and he can make a silly mistake.” — Fabio Capello

“I think Wayne’s strength of character is an example for everybody, not only for his fellow players but also for other players from other clubs and also for the manager, because he is a very social human being and he has a professional attitude. And I could not imagine that when I was the coach of the Dutch national team before I came to United. I had heard other things, but he has shown a fantastic attitude and I am very happy that he scored. People question whether he has lost pace, yes, but he is always running in behind at the right moment and that is more important.” — Louis van Gaal

“If I was in club management, the first thing I’d have done this morning is find out the telephone number of his agent. He is one of the biggest talents in the game, he is not just a goalscorer but a real all-round footballer. I’m sure the queue for his services is getting longer by the minute. I can’t say I know him very well because he doesn’t talk all that much. But he doesn’t need to – he just goes out and does it. Against France and Switzerland (at Euro 2004) he was like a boy out on the school pitch. He was saying ‘give me the ball and let me enjoy myself.’ He was the man of the day in England and all over Europe as well.” — Sven-Goran Eriksson (2004)

“I coached both Italy’s Roberto Baggio and Portugal’s Rui Costa at the same age and Rooney is even better. Here, we have a player who is not just ready but mature at an exceptionally early age.” — Sven-Goran Eriksson (2004)


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