Whenever England are knocked out of a major tournament, there always has to be scapegoat.
In 1998 it was David Beckham. Two years later it was Phil Neville. It was David Seaman in 2002 and so on.
At the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany, England fans made Cristiano Ronaldo public enemy number one following his involvement in Wayne Rooney’s red card during the quarter-final match against Portugal.
Rooney was shown a straight red card for a stamp on Ricardo Carvalho, but Ronaldo appeared to demand that action was taken against his Manchester United teammate by referee Horacio Marcelo Elizondo.
The winger then infuriated England football fans when he was caught on camera winking towards the Portugal bench shortly after Rooney had been dismissed.
People wondered if Ronaldo would be forced to leave Old Trafford that summer.
Surely his position at United was untenable after ‘demanding’ that Rooney was sent off in one of the biggest matches of his career.
Everyone was fascinating to see how Rooney would react after meeting Ronaldo for the first time after the tournament. Some feared for Cristiano’s safety.
However, the two players basically acted as if nothing has happened and went on to enjoy a fantastic season. Some of their link-up play during the 2006-07 campaign was outstanding and United won the title at the end of it.
Fergie revealed what Rooney said to him after the incident
Following Ronaldo’s latest Ballon d’Or win, Sir Alex Ferguson has given a lengthy interview with France Football and revealed that Ronaldo’s decision to leave United for Real Madrid started after the fall-out from the incident at that World Cup.
The legendary Scot also revealed what Rooney said to him following the controversial episode in Gelsenkirchen.
“It actually all started during the 2006 World Cup when Rooney was sent off against Portugal and the press and critics accused Cristiano of having contributed to that. It was unfair,” Ferguson said, per Get French Football News, about Ronaldo’s departure.
“But I have to say that on that occasion, Rooney was fantastic and managed the situation very well.
“He came to me and asked if he and Cristiano should do an interview together to silence all the critics before the start of season.
“I told him that the idea did not seem wise. I thought that it was some sort of gimmick, and I do not like gimmicks.”
This sums up Rooney's brilliant attitude
Fair play to Rooney.
He could easily have held a grudge against Ronaldo but, instead, decided it was in everyone’s best interests to move on as quickly as possible.
Who knows whether a joint-interview between Rooney and Ronaldo would have helped the situation, but the story sums up the attitude and character of United’s all-time leading goalscorer.
Would Ronaldo have offered to do the same thing if the roles were reversed?
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