– Can you put into words how proud an honour it is for you to be given a testimonial match for Manchester United?
It’s a huge honour for me to be granted a testimonial by the club and I’m very grateful. I’ve had 12 brilliant years here, many of which have been very successful and I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved so far. It’s the perfect way for me to celebrate with the fans who have been amazing. Hopefully we can raise a lot of money for children’s charities.
– When you found out, how did you go about choosing an opponent presumably Everton were high in your thinking straight away?
Everton was the obvious choice and the team I had in my mind from the moment I was granted a testimonial. I’ve only played for two clubs and both have played a special part in my career so far. I joined Everton as 9 year old and my development there has played a huge part in my success since – they gave me my chance in the game and I’ll always be thankful.
– Tell us about the Wayne Rooney Foundation – what urged you to set it up?
When I knew I was getting a testimonial match I decided I wanted all the money raised to go to charity so I set up the Wayne Rooney Foundation. Being a father of 3 children is very important to me so I decided that the foundation would support disadvantaged children. We have committed to four special charities who do amazing work, they are; Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Claire House Children’s Hospice, NSPCC and Manchester United Foundation.
– Can you provide a bit of background as to the work these charities do, and why they’re important to you?
I went to Alder Hey as a child and my own children have been there. They do amazing work with sick children from all over the UK. Claire House is a North West Children’s Hospice that supports families of children with life limiting illnesses. Coleen’s sister Rosie was cared for there and it’s a really special place. I am Ambassador for Childhood for the NSPCC so it was very fitting for them to be a charity partner and for the Testimonial to raise money to support their fight for every childhood. Finally, as captain of Manchester United I felt that supporting the Manchester United Foundation was the perfect way to give something back to the people of Manchester. The Foundation uses football to inspire young people to build a better life for themselves and to help unite the communities in which they live.
– How important is it for you to be able to use your standing and status in order to help other people in this way?
It’s very important that I use my status to help others and it’s an honour to do so. I realise how fortunate I’ve been and acknowledge how the support and opportunities I have received have played an integral part in helping me achieve my dreams. Hopefully the funds raised from the Foundation can help improve and inspire the lives of many children.
– When you walk out at Old Trafford, where you’ve played 253 times for United over 12 seasons, some great moments will surely go through your mind – which games at the stadium stand out for you, can you pick your Top Three?
My favourite would have to be my debut against Fernabache. To score a hat-trick on my debut in the Champions League is certainly something I’ll never forget – it was an amazing feeling. It’s difficult to pick others because there’s been so many, but I’ll go with the 4-3 win against Manchester City when Michael Owen scored the winner in stoppage time, the atmosphere was unbelievable. The other game I would choose is the 3-2 semi-final win against AC Milan in 2007, it was a massive game and to score two goals was brilliant.
– What about goals – we know about your most famous ones like the overhead against City and the volley against Newcastle, but are there any others you’ve scored at Old Trafford that stand out for different reasons?
I’d say my first goal at Old Trafford on my debut, for obvious reasons. My stoppage time header in the League Cup semi-final win against Manchester City in 2010 was special. That goal took us through to the final and to do it against the local rivals made it even better. Another of my favourite goals at Old Trafford was against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup, the ball was headed down by Louis Saha and I volleyed it across the goal.
– You’ve shared the Old Trafford pitch with many greats. Who stands out for you as the best you’ve played alongside?
I’d say there are two that stand out and they’re Paul Scholes and Cristiano Ronaldo. Paul Scholes is one of the best midfielders of all time. His passing, vision and the way he controlled the tempo of games was incredible. Cristiano is a special player and he has gone on to be one of the best in the world. Some of the things he used to do in training and then take into games was unbelievable, he’ll always be remembered as one of the greats of the game.
– And who would you rate as the best you’ve come up against?
There’s been so many over the years but I’ll try and pick one for each position. The best goalkeeper I’ve come up against is Iker Casillas, he’s won everything you can in the game and is one of the best goalkeepers of all-time. The best defender is probably John Terry, he reads the game well, he is physical and very tough to play against. For midfield I’d say Xavi, he’s got everything, brilliant passing, vision, creativity and leadership. The best striker has to be Lionel Messi, in my opinion he’s the best player ever and I’m honoured to have shared a pitch with him.
– Jose Mourinho will be in charge, of course – his first game in the dug-out at Old Trafford. How excited and motivated are you to be working under him next season?
I’m really excited to be working with Jose this season as he’s one of the best managers in the world and it’s an exciting time for Manchester United. I’ve always respected him both as a man and as a manager, he’s a nice guy and one of the most successful managers of all-time. I like to think I’m always motivated as a player but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit more motivated when a new manager comes in, I’m sure all the lads will be happy to be working under Jose and also eager to impress.
– What’s it like playing against a Mourinho side, and therefore what will he bring to United?
I’ve played against many Mourinho sides over the years and I can’t remember any easy games so I think that says it all. His teams are always hard to beat, tactically disciplined and most importantly successful. He’ll bring all of these qualities with him and I’m sure he’ll have his own ideas, but one of the biggest assets will be his experience. He’s managed a lot of successful teams throughout his career and all that experience will be vital.
– It looks a mouthwatering Premier League, with so many top managers and good players spread around the teams. Do you think it has the makings of a classic season? What are your ambitions for the team?
The Premier League is the most exiting league in the world with some of the world’s best players, with the addition of a number of top managers I think this season has the potential to be one of the best yet. I think that Leicester winning the league last season will make this year’s campaign even more competitive, they proved that anything can happen and this will give a lot of other teams’ confidence. Manchester United is the biggest club in the world and our ambition is always to win titles, that’s no different this year, we want to win every competition that we’re involved in.
– The League Cup win in 2006 provided a springboard for greater success in the next few years. Can you remember that trophy having that sort of positive impact on a young squad, and are you confident last season’s FA Cup triumph can do the same thing?
Winning any trophy has a positive effect on the team and gives you confidence no matter whether it’s a young or older squad. The League Cup win in 2006 was my first title and it gave me a huge boost on a personal level but many senior players also played and that squad went on to be very successful. Winning the FA Cup for the first time in 12 years will have given the lads a huge boost and I’m sure they will want more of that success this season.
The Wayne Rooney Foundation is a registered Charity that raises money for Children in England who for reasons of illness or circumstances have lost the opportunity to “Dream and Achieve”. The WRF has pledged to raise £5,000,000 to assist projects that will improve the lives of Children through schemes administered by The NSPCC, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Claire House Children’s Hospice and the Manchester United Foundation.
For more information on the foundation, its charity partners and the specific schemes we plan to fund go to www.waynerooney.com/foundation
Tickets available for the Wayne Rooney Testimonial game are available from the Manchester United ticket office or online at: www.manutd.com/rooneytestimonial
Prices start from £25 for adults and £10 for juniors
Copyright 2014 Stoneygate 48 Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.waynerooney.com as the source.