Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has offered a surprise revelation as he celebrates a decade with the club, with the striker claiming that Roy Keane was the best passer he played with over this successful period.
Sunday was the 10th anniversary of Rooney’s debut hat-trick against Fenerbahce in the Champions League and, since that moment, he has scored a further 216 goals and won numerous top honours, including five league titles.
Rooney has been fortunate to play in the same Manchester United team as some of the greats of the modern era, Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Scholes among them, yet it was his understanding with Keane that he deemed most fruitful.
“With Roy, I knew he was a great footballer but until I played with him didn’t realise how great. His passing was probably the best I’ve played with,” Rooney told the Sunday Times. “In terms of getting it in to the forwards’ feet.
“I had associated him with someone who got round the pitch, making tackles, but it was his passing that blew me away.”
Keane and Rooney were together for only one season until the former’s acrimonious departure from Old Trafford, but the club’s ex-captain clearly made a lasting mark on the then teenaged centre-forward.
It is certainly quite an accolade for a player, as Rooney explains, was more known for his robustness in the middle of the park that allowed the likes of Scholes, David Beckham and others to provide a creative spark.
What about Scholes?
It would have been fair to assume that Rooney would have identified Scholes as the most supreme passer he had encountered during his time with Manchester United, given his reputation as one of the greatest ball players of his generation.
Is Rooney’s willingness to place Keane above Scholes an honest assessment or an act of retaliation? Scholes had claimed in the summer that Rooney was beyond his peak and, unsurprisingly, this did not sit too well with his former Manchester United teammate.
Rooney, though, was diplomatic in his response to these comments from Scholes, and maintained that the United legend was “probably” the best player he has ever operated alongside - even if they have no relationship away from the game.