Wayne Rooney's work ethic and willingness to sacrifice himself for the team made him a Manchester United great, believes former team-mate Rio Ferdinand.
Rooney completed his return to Everton after 13 years at Old Trafford on Sunday, having won five Premier League titles, three League Cups and the Champions League during his time at the club.
Ferdinand and Rooney were also international colleagues and the former defender highlighted Rooney's team spirit, labelling him as the complete package even as a teenager.
Rooney went on to become the all-time top goalscorer for both United and England and Ferdinand compared the 31-year-old to another great of the game, Cristiano Ronaldo, in a lengthy Facebook tribute.
Ferdinand wrote: "I'd seen many quality and hyped kids coming through at West Ham United like Joe Cole, [Michael] Carrick, [Frank] Lampard, [Jermain] Defoe and many more over the years since at Man Utd like [Paul] Pogba, Ravel Morrison, [Jesse] Lingard etc but none of these guys could compare with Wayne in terms of being ready physically(built like a middleweight boxer from 10yrs old!!) and his in game maturity with a ball at his feet (awareness, decision making, finding space, and a work ethic that rubbed off on others).
"Even when Manchester United signed a £12million Portuguese wonderkid of a similar age by the name of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne was still the more mature footballer at the time. Cristiano at the time more interested in showboating while Wayne was all about doing things to affect the game and fit in as a total team player. Obviously Cristiano worked that one out soon enough & went on to do all sorts!!!!"
Wayne Rooney "I have just seen this kid make a couple of seasoned England defenders look very basic, then nonchalantly...
Rooney hit 253 goals for Manchester United and 53 goals for England in a glittering Old Trafford career and Ferdinand believes his old colleague deserves all the plaudits coming his way since his exit was revealed.
"Don't get me wrong he wasn't perfect, he had a temper that needed keeping in check on and off the pitch [and] he was at the perfect club with the perfect manager to help him with that," Ferdinand continued. "From within the club there were no doubts as to whether this kid from Liverpool would go on to be a great at this great club in Manchester.
"There are so many moments I can go back to where he played a part in taking my breath away, like his overhead kick vs Manchester City, the lightning breakaway goal at Old Trafford with Cristiano vs Bolton, the volley vs Newcastle from way out, I could go on and on!! But above those great moments he produced when putting the ball in the back of the net was Wayne's humility, his willingness to sacrifice for the team, play out of position(left wing/right wing at times) because the manager said so.
"Also a huge part of his game was about a high intensity work ethic putting teams under pressure and his mentality that the team came first always. A truly unselfish footballer. He worked tirelessly after training on his shooting, doing it at match pace... none of this slow and chilled out shooting drills that you sometimes see players do - match tempo practice so when it came to games, he has seen them pictures daily on the training pitch and can execute more efficiently.
"He worked on his free kicks daily and his general ball striking.... None of these records get taken down without all that extra practice and focus so he deserves it all.
"Wayne [has] done it his way and in doing that has broken long standing goalscoring records for both club and country, and will no doubt go down as one of the best players to wear Manchester United and England shirts. He was the best all round centre forward I played with and I played with some greats! Great player, great guy & great family man *but* terrible singer!! Enjoy the next chapter mate at Everton Football Club... you are a Legend!"
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