Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville believes the Red Devils’ current skipper, Wayne Rooney, has travelled a similar career path to retired football icon David Beckham.
Neville, speaking exclusively to FourFourTwo magazine, feels Rooney now plays with an “inner comfort” as the captain of both Manchester United and England, having experienced all the highs and lows that football has to offer.
Furthermore, Neville - who now helps coach Rooney at international level - believes the 29-year-old is one of the best strikers he played with during his hugely successful 19-year career with the Red Devils.
Neville hails Rooney
"I'd put Wayne Rooney up front with Cristiano Ronaldo in my all-time XI of Manchester United players I played with,” Neville revealed. "Above [Eric] Cantona, [Mark] Hughes, [Dwight] Yorke and [Andy] Cole. All great strikers, but Wayne has got qualities from all of those players. He's those four players wrapped in one."
Neville believes Rooney has matured as a footballer and human being over the past few years - in the same way Beckham, Neville’s closest friend in football, did following his notorious red card against Argentina at the 1998 World Cup finals - and is now more aware that young people look up to him as a role model.
"I see a player showing greater maturity in taking on responsibility, in his manner on the pitch and his manner around people,” Neville, who also works as a pundit for Sky Sports, added. “He understands that people look up to him.
"He's entered a new phase in his career. He knows he's not the up-and-coming youngster anymore, or even a player in the middle of his career. He realises that he's got vast experience from travelling a similar journey to David Beckham.
"He realises that he's got vast experience from travelling a similar journey to David Beckham." - Gary Neville on Wayne Rooney.
"He's had the media scrutiny, he's been sent off in the World Cup... nothing can shock him anymore and he's got an inner comfort from that. He knows that's what you get when you're the captain of Manchester United and England."
Rooney to break records
Rooney is firmly on course to become the all-time record goalscorer for both Manchester United and England - and could break both records within the next 12 months.
The former Everton forward needs four more goals to overtake Gary Lineker and Bobby Charlton as the Three Lions’ record goalscorer, while 29 more goals for Manchester United will put him ahead of both Denis Law and Charlton as United’s top scorer in the club’s 136-year history.
Manchester United fans: is Wayne Rooney now more of a club legend than David Beckham? Have your say in the comments section below.