Vacuum seller cleaned up by finding diamond in rough
THE biggest influence on Wayne Rooney's career has never been Sir Alex Ferguson but a former vacuum cleaner salesman-turned-controversial football agent.
Paul Stretford is the man who was plotting Rooney's departure from Manchester United and he stood to make up to £5m (€5.6m) if the striker moved to another club. Rooney's trust in Mr Stretford is unwavering. The player stuck by his representative even while he was banned from football for 18 months for breaking agents' rules.
The England striker has also been a character witness for his agent, and thanks Mr Stretford for making him "a wealthy young man". The pair are set to become much richer on the back of the latest deal.
Mr Stretford earned £1m (€1.1m) from United for his part in Rooney's £27m (€30.4m) transfer from Everton in 2004, and another £500,000 (€560,000) for renegotiating his contract in 2006.
But those figures will be no doubt be dwarfed for his latest renegotiation with United.
Mr Stretford has been involved in football for more than 20 years, and initially made inroads into the game through some Irish contacts.
He began representing Ireland's ex-Arsenal and Manchester United striker Frank Stapleton after the pair met because their wives were friendly. Through his link with Stapleton, he also became Kevin Moran's client.
Indeed, the former Ireland defender would subsequently work as an agent for Stretford when his playing days finished, although they have since gone their separate ways.
Mr Stretford also takes 20pc of all Rooney's commercial deals, revealed in court papers this year to be £1m a year from Nike and £118,689 (€133,564) every six months from EA Sports. Rooney has also secured £3.55m (€4m) for a 12-year contract for five books, and £600,000 (€675,285) from a four-year deal with Coke, though the firm is known to be angry about revelations he consorted with prostitutes.
On top of his commission, Mr Stretford takes £152,000 (€171,000) from the £760,000-a-year (£855,375) image rights that Rooney is paid by United, making him a multi-millionaire from his one football client.
Ferguson has limited Rooney to a maximum of five sponsors to keep his focus on football, but those restrictions will be lifted now. It was Mr Stretford who rang David Gill on August 14 and stunned the Manchester United chief executive by revealing that Rooney would not be signing a new contract.
The partnership of Mr Stretford and Rooney has been controversial ever since the agent negotiated the player's first professional contract, which took the 17-year-old, then at Everton, from £80 (€90) to £13,000 (€14,650) a week.