The ex-Scotland star always expected the striker to become an iconic player, as long as he avoided interest from Europe’s biggest teams
Manchester United were worried Wayne Rooney would be snapped up by another club before sealing his status as an Old Trafford great, according to Darren Fletcher.
The striker joined the Red Devils from boyhood club Everton at the age of 19 and went on to claim five Premier League titles as well as Champions League and Europa League crowns over a 13-year spell.
Rooney was United’s all-time top goalscorer by the time he left to rejoin Everton in 2017, but Fletcher admits there was a concern one of Europe’s top clubs would swoop in for him.
“Wayne was fantastic,” the former United midfielder told Sky Sports. “We were two of the youngest in the dressing room and we built up a good relationship very early. There were a lot of experienced winners in the dressing room, and me and Wayne were close in age with similar backgrounds and we just got on and clicked.
“You could tell Wayne was going to go on and be a Manchester United great. The only worry was would a Real Madrid or someone like that come in for him, because that was quite possible.
“But there was no doubt that he was going to go on and win everything, go on and be club captain and end up England and Manchester United’s leading goalscorer – what an achievement.”
Although he retired over a year ago, the D.C. United star will return to the England squad this month for a charity friendly against USA, earning his 120th cap.
The news caused a stir among many fans and former players, with many saying it cheapens the prestige of the national team.
But Fletcher believes Rooney deserves more respect than he receives and praised him for giving his all to the team.
“I don’t think he gets the appreciation he deserves,” he said. “Still, people don’t realise how good Wayne Rooney was, and always was, at Manchester United. And again, he was a team player. He sacrificed himself at times for the good of the team.”