Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney has always been a polarizing figure and even more so now that his talent is being questioned, having played at the top level for several years.
The forward's temperament has cooled over the years. But it was the cause of much debate among fans. Now, his place in United and England history is all but secure, yet given his inconsistent performances these last few seasons, it's his football that beckons discussion.
Rooney, now 31, became the Red Devil's joint top scorer in early January, equaling Sir Bobby Charlton's goal-scoring record in an FA Cup clash against Reading. He reached goal No. 249 in that match and unless something really tragic happens, will go on to become the club's highest-ever scorer this season.
Rooney has enjoyed playing alongside many people and the same is true going the other way. But there are also players who didn't relish being his teammate at times, despite his immense talent.
Below is a list of players who loved playing at his side, as well as others who didn't.
15 Love - Ander Herrera
The Spaniard is really quite fond of his captain and had quite a bit to say on his influence and selflessness. Rooney passed up on the chance to get closer to Sir Bobby Charlton’s United goal-scoring record by letting his teammates Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial take penalties in a Europa League match earlier this season.
Herrera was clearly taken aback by Rooney’s character, but also loves his overall play.
"You see it in the dressing room all the time, too,” the midfielder said. “If he is not playing he's still there talking about how to improve, how we're playing, what we can do to win. He has never disconnected. When I retire from football one of the things that will stay with me is Wayne's class."
The love is strong in this one.
14 Hate - Anders Lindegaard
Well, Rooney thinks Anders Lindegaard is annoying, so it’s probably safe to assume that Lindergaard doesn’t like the United captain either. Lindegaard, a 32-year-old Danish keeper who plays for Preston North End, spent five years at Old Trafford before leaving for West Bromwich Albion.
Rooney once famously claimed in a Q&A session, that the Dane was his most annoying teammate. He was asked: “Who would be the worst teammate to be stuck in a lift with?”
“Anders Lindegaard,” he replied. “He’s just annoying.”
Lindegaard replied with a very weird tweet that risked landing him in hot water with the English FA, also claiming that it was nice to see Rooney still had ‘s#*t banter’.
13 Love - Antonio Valencia
Rooney loves playing with Antonio Valencia and hasn’t shied away from letting everyone know. The feeling is certainly mutual and Valencia must be pleased every time the Englishman tucks one away that is helped on by one of his crosses into the box.
Rooney named the winger as his top teammate almost seven years ago, having scored a career-high 34 goals in the 2009/10 season. He claimed that he would have never been able to score as many without the Ecuadorian in the team.
"I couldn't have scored the amount of goals I have this season without him," Rooney declared. "He's been great this year and the quality of balls he puts in the box for me has been unbelievable."
12 Hate - Juan Mata
The Spaniard never went at Rooney, but he probably hated having him in the team sometimes. Mata joined the Old Trafford side as an expensive buy from Chelsea, having been snubbed by Jose Mourinho, who was still at Stamford Bridge back then.
Mourinho preferred Oscar in the No. 10 role and considered the midfielder surplus to requirements. An absolute fan favorite at the Bridge, Mata was forced out of the team as he could not land a starting role. But sadly for him, things didn’t improve that much, as Rooney was being used as the team’s man in the hole, forcing Mata to play out wide or ride the bench.
Strangely, Mata is enjoying life under Mourinho at United these days, but he would have preferred it if his joy came much sooner.
11 Love - Cristiano Ronaldo
The Euro 2016 winner won a horde of trophies playing with Rooney at United, before sealing a switch to Real Madrid in 2009. They shared a fantastic partnership at the point of the Red Devils’ attack and could hardly be contained.
Six years after moving on, Ronaldo admitted that he missed playing with Rooney and hoped that they could feature in the same side again one day.
"We won every trophy - the Premier League, the Carling Cup, the Champions League,” Ronaldo said in an interview. "He's a fantastic guy and he helped me a lot when he came to join us in Manchester. I miss playing with him. Maybe in the future we will play together again."
That really seems unlikely now, but you never know.
10 Hate - Cristiano Ronaldo
A bit confusing as we just said the opposite above, but Cristiano Ronaldo has had his moments with Rooney; although not while playing for United.
The incident took place in the 2006 World Cup quarterfinals. England and Portugal faced off in a very physical match, with Rooney getting sent off for stamping on Ricardo Carvahlo. Rooney later admitted that he tried to get the Portuguese winger carded in the first half of the match by constantly telling the referee that his United teammate was diving. But he’s the one who ultimately saw red.
Ronaldo rushed to the official after Rooney’s stamp and begged for the striker to be given marching orders. He then winked to the bench after his demands were met and ended up scoring the winning spot kick in the penalty shootout which ensued after.
9 Love - Ashley Cole
The two played together in the England team, back when Cole was at the peak of his powers. The former Chelsea man was said to be quite fond of Rooney, according to Rooney, and would have taken a bullet for him.
“He’s nothing like what you guys think,” Rooney once said to Piers Morgan. “Ash is a really sound guy and has been a proper friend to me. I’d take a bullet for him. I would and he would for me too. We’d die for each other.”
Pretty bold statement there, but let’s hope that the only shots these players - and all others for that matter - ever face comes from an opponent’s boot.
8 Hate - Marcus Rashford
When Marcus Rashford burst onto the scene in the latter half of last season, Rooney still didn’t expect to fall below the kid in the pecking order. And with Jose Mourinho taking over this term, it didn’t seem like Rashford would be handed many opportunities, given the Portuguese’s liking for Rooney coupled with his reputation for fielding experience over youth.
Well the youngster has continued to wow everyone, having become an important piece in the side this season. Rumor has it that he had a bust-up with his captain earlier this season, although Rooney has denied it.
Rooney, known for his not-so-gentlemanlike behaviour in the past, probably had a go at Rashford out of jealousy and the emerging star simply wouldn’t have it.
Then again, things could have been spun out of proportion by the media.
7 Love - John Terry
The Chelsea captain gave a glowing record of the United and England captain after he became the country’s highest-ever scorer in September. Terry captained England himself, playing several years with Rooney and rates him as the Three Lions’ best-ever player.
“I've had the pleasure to play alongside Wayne and for me he's England's best ever,” said Terry. “I've seen first hand him do things with the ball that I've never seen before. A winner and a leader and so proud to see him wearing the armband captaining our country.”
Terry has faced Rooney lots of times during Chelsea and United’s clashes, and knows just how good of an attacker he is. The Chelsea stalwart is one of England’s best defensive talents and has made a living off keeping strikers tame. So his praise of Rooney shows just how much respect and admiration he has for his countryman.
6 Hate - Rio Ferdinand
Former Manchester United defender and captain Rio Ferdinand won a lot of silverware playing alongside Rooney. But he still viewed him as a spoilt brat.
Ferdinand described his ex-teammate as a ‘very angry kid’ in his autobiography '#2Sides'.
"Wayne Rooney always struck me as a very angry young man, always arguing with people outside the training ground, especially on the phone," Ferdinand wrote. He seemed to fly into a rage about the smallest things and went through mobile phones like they were sweets.”
Given that Rooney contributed lot’s to his success, Ferdinand certainly can’t regret having the attacker in his team. Yet on a personal level, he probably didn’t think much of him.
5 Love - Robin van Persie
The Dutchman played alongside Rooney for three seasons and the pair helped United win their last Premier League title in 2013, combining for 13 goals.
They formed a deadly partnership up front under Sir Alex Ferguson, but van Persie’s influence would decrease when David Moyes took over. Things would get much worse under countryman Louis van Gaal and the striker eventually left for Fenerbahce.
Van Persie, however, shared a great relationship with Rooney, and made no secret of it.
“I love to play with him,” the attacker said after a Champions League match against Bayer Leverkusen. “He has a bit of everything. He can drop, he can go behind, he can play the short game, longer game. I love to play with Wayne, I thought he played really well.”
4 Hate - David Beckham
The name David Beckham is still highly regarded in the football world, despite the man himself having retired three years back.
Beckham did not play with Rooney at Manchester United, having left the season before the midfielder joined from Everton. But they did play together for England and it was after a loss to Northern Ireland back in 2005 that they squared up in the dressing room.
Rooney apparently told Beckham to ‘f**k off’ after the England captain asked that he calmed down after a series of unsavory actions out on the pitch. Rooney then called Beckham a ‘flash bastard’ at his back, which led to a spat in the dressing room.
Thankfully, no blows were thrown, as Rio Ferdinand and a few other players got in between.
3 Love - Frank Lampard
Frank Lampard is Chelsea’s highest-ever scorer and is one of the best midfield talents to ever take the field for England. The 38-year-old played with many greats over the years, but names Rooney as the best player he ever played with.
“Wazza is the best,” he said of the United captain back in 2009. “When he exploded on to the England scene at 17 and played at Euro 2004 with me, I'd never seen anything like him for his power and all the other attributes he has that stand out.”
That’s saying a whole lot, given that he’s played alongside the likes of Didier Drogba, Michael Owen and Gianfranco Zola.
2 Hate - Michael Owen
Rooney was said to be involved in a rift with another England great, Michael Owen. The pair played together at Manchester United between 2009 and 2012, but things were sour prior to Owen’s United days, while the pair were England teammates.
Rooney was quite angry at Owen because of a gambling loss, which he blamed on the former striker. He was believed to have lost up to £700,000 through a bookie introduced to him, as well as other members of the England squad, by Owen.
He certainly wasn’t happy about losing such a precious amount, but then, it couldn’t have been Owen’s fault. Besides, Rooney was the only one who had misgivings over the whole affair.
There was no way Owen would have enjoyed his company during that time, though.
1 Love - Carlos Tevez
Carlos Tevez is now one of the highest-paid footballers in the world, having joined Chinese Super League outfit Shanghai Shenhua last month. The Argentine spent two years at Old Trafford with United, before leaving for rivals Manchester City in 2009.
He had an enjoyable time playing alongside Rooney and also helped the Red Devils win two Premier League titles and the Champions League. Tevez has spoken very highly of the England skipper and years ago revealed that Rooney made him feel most at home at United.
"Rooney is phenomenal," he declared. "He was one of those who treated me best when I arrived (at United). He would come and talk to me and was concerned about me. Before I got to Manchester he always said he wanted to play with me."
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