Wayne Rooney has opened up on his love of writing poetry, collecting signed guitars, with one from Paul McCartney his favourite, singing ‘Mustang Sally’ and Oasis on his karaoke machine – and why he insisted that his sons were born in Liverpool rather than in Manchester because he is so proud of his Merseyside roots.
In an intimate documentary into Rooney’s life the striker also admitted he should never have gone to the 2006 World Cup finals because he was not fit enough, how disappointed he was with Fabio Capello as England manager and how he told Alex Ferguson he should let him “move on” from Manchester United in 2013 if he was “not going to play me”.
There are also plenty of apologies from Rooney – who says sorry for the “dark day” of being sent off at that World Cup in Germany, of being “stupid” and shouting down a TV camera at the finals four years later, of asking to leave United in 2010 and for questioning whether David Moyes had held him back at Everton.
The film, Wayne Rooney – The Man Behind The Goals, will be aired on BBC One next Tuesday, and is timed to celebrate Rooney’s becoming England’s record goal‑scorer, with 50. It includes a touching scene of Rooney together with Bobby Charlton, whose record he has broken, and Gary Lineker, who is third on the list, and who also narrates the wide‑ranging film.
The documentary runs through Rooney’s career and provides access into his private life with his wife, Coleen, who is pregnant, painting a picture of a doting father who is also far more “strict” than she expected him to be with their two sons, Kai and Klay.
“Certainly having children has calmed me down a bit,” Rooney says at one stage while revealing his love of poetry, penning verses to Coleen when they started to go out with one another. “I used to love writing poems,” Rooney says, with his wife revealing he now leaves poems for his sons.
Rooney also “hogs the mic” of a karaoke machine at his home and said that at the most recent United Christmas party David De Gea had “taken over the drums, Juan Mata on guitar and me singing”.
There is a strong portrait of Rooney’s youth, growing up in Croxteth, where much of his family still live. “My two sons were born here [Liverpool],” he says.
“I live up in Manchester but in terms of where my sons were born I was always going to come back to home and make sure they were born in Liverpool.”
What comes across strongly is Rooney’s popularity with his team‑mates – past and present – and there are glowing tributes from Charlton, who calls him a “credit to England”, and the likes of Steven Gerrard, David Beckham, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo. There is even a teasing suggestion from Ronaldo, who left United in 2009 to join Real Madrid, that he and Rooney might still end up playing again for the same club before their careers end, while Ibrahimovic said he regrets not having been one of his team-mates.
“We won every trophy... he’s a fantastic boy and he helped me a lot,” Ronaldo says. “It was amazing to play with him. But the future, nobody knows, maybe we will play one day together again.”
However, Ronaldo was also heavily involved in one of the most controversial incidents in Rooney’s career when the England international was sent off during the 2006 World Cup quarter-final against Portugal for stamping on Ricardo Carvalho. Ronaldo urged the referee to issue a red card, with the pair clashing, but they spoke afterwards with Rooney saying it was forgotten – and that the players should now go on and win trophies for their club, United.
However, Rooney admitted that he should never have gone to the finals. “Before the World Cup in Germany I broke my foot at Chelsea. You could feel the excitement building around the World Cup and it was touch-and-go as to whether I would be fit. And then Sven [Goran Eriksson] put me in the squad. Looking back, if I could have gone back in time, then I probably would have sat out the World Cup. It was a big ask to get fit after six weeks out, not playing, I was never going to have that match sharpness.”
Despite his achievements a major theme of the film is the disappointment Rooney has endured during tournaments for England since he burst on the scene in Euro 2004 when he felt “unstoppable” before injury cut short his campaign. “I go into tournaments and I am always confident but for some reason it hasn’t happened. I don’t know if I put too much pressure on myself,” Rooney says.
In 2010 in South Africa England were booed off the pitch at Cape Town after the goalless draw against Algeria with Rooney showing his frustration. “That was stupid of me to do that. I was frustrated with my own game, frustrated with the team’s game,” he says. “That is certainly a bad point as to how we performed as a team and I performed personally.”
Rooney says: “The time I have enjoyed playing for England most was under Sven and now under Roy Hodgson. The time in between that [under Steve McClaren and Capello] I have not enjoyed it as much as I should have. The one I have been most excited about was Fabio Capello with his record.”
Lineker asks if it was, therefore, disappointing with the way it then worked out under the Italian. “It was, yeah,” Rooney says. “Just that I expected a bit more [from him].”
On his club career at United, Rooney admits that his relationship with Ferguson became fractious – although he hails him as the “best manager of all time” and the reason why he joined United in the first place back in 2004.
“It is not just me who has had a fall-out with Alex Ferguson,” Rooney, who twice tried to leave United under the Scot, says. “I think many players have. Some have left. Some have stayed.”
The pair clashed again just before Ferguson’s retirement two years ago when Rooney was being left out of the team. “I went in to see him and just said if you are not going to play me then it might be better for me to move on,” Rooney says. “Then, all of a sudden, it was all over the press that I had put a transfer request in which I never did. I don’t know what happened, why that came out that way.”
Barring the briefest of blips when they won their opening Premier League game under David Moyes to gain a meaningless lead at the top of the table, Manchester United have not touched such dizzy heights since Alex Ferguson delivered the last of his domestic titles in 2013.