Knocking over senior players, scoring hat-tricks and doing the ridiculous: Lee Carsley describes the experience of training with a 15-year-old Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney of Everton celebrates scoring during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match between Everton and Arsenal at Goodison Park in Liverpool on October 19, 2002.
(Image credit: Mike Finn-Kelcey/Getty Images)

England under-21 manager Lee Carsley has paid tribute to a teenage Wayne Rooney, describing him as a world-class footballer at such a young age.

Carsley and Rooney both came up through the Everton academy together, with Rooney taking the Premier League by storm as an 18-year-old with a stunning first goal against Arsenal. The forward would go on to become England's all-time record scorer – before that record was broken by Harry Kane – and would score 208 Premier League goals. 

Now, Carsley has told FourFourTwo just how good a young Rooney really was, stating that he had no weakness in his game and always wanted to push himself further as a player. 

"People often say young players are going to be world-class, but I saw Wayne at 15 so I know what that looks like!" Carsley says. "In training, he was knocking over senior players, scoring hat-tricks and just doing ridiculous things. 

"Wayne was outstanding – I couldn’t pick out a weakness in his game. Probably the biggest strength he had was his mentality. He always wanted more. 

"I never had the feeling that anything got too much for him, regardless of the fuss that was going on around him and the amount of attention he received. 

"Nothing changed. That was down to the grounding and the support he had."

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