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17th Nov 2018

Wayne Rooney opens up on the ’embarrassing’ end to his United career

Jack O'Toole

Former Manchester United captain and record goalscorer Wayne Rooney has said that he felt embarrassed by how his career at Old Trafford ended.

Rooney scored 253 goals in 559 games for United but was sparsely used in his final season with the club making just 25 appearances in the league.

It represented the lowest number of league games the 33-year-old had played in his 13 seasons with the club and he said that the League Cup final against Southampton, where he was an unused substitute, was the point where he realised that he had to move on.

“There are times when you doubt yourself as a player, you think: ‘Am I good enough?’” Rooney told Sky Sports.

“The time Jose Mourinho left me out of the Manchester United team. There are moments when you do doubt yourself, I believe I was good enough to get back in the team, but I never really got that opportunity.

“I came on for one minute in the Europa League final, I was about to come on against Southampton in the League Cup final, and in those moments it was embarrassing.

“It was getting to a point where I was embarrassed, I thought: ‘I can’t keep doing this,’ as hard as it was to leave Man United.

“In the Southampton game, Mourinho came to me and said: ‘I want you to lift the trophy.’

“I was like: ‘Well, I didn’t even play in the game.’ He was persistent with it, and I literally lifted it and moved it on! I just knew… what was I doing? I need to move on and go somewhere else.”

The current D.C. United forward scored 23 goals in the 2006/2007 season, the third highest goalscoring season of his United career, but he noted that even during the campaigns where he was scoring goals, he still battled confidence issues.

“I think there are periods throughout my career where you do lack a bit in confidence, where you doubt yourself at times. I think there was a time at Manchester United [2006/07 season] where I was scoring goals, and then for some reason I couldn’t score,” Rooney said.

“You’re down, because I love football, love playing football, and after the games I’d go home and watch the games back, to try and see where I’ve gone wrong in certain moments, and I couldn’t work it out. It was so frustrating.

“I couldn’t work out why I wasn’t scoring, why I wasn’t playing as well. Then you end up trying harder, it becomes worse, you feel like you’re just stuck.

“I always remember Sir Alex Ferguson pulling me into his office, and he said: ‘Listen, you’re trying too hard, just keep the game simple. Get the ball, lay it off, get in the box. Your chance will come, you will score and you’ll continue to score.’

“That’s what I did the next game, got the ball, played one or two touch, and I think I scored a hat-trick against Bolton away. I remember sitting there thinking: ‘It can’t be that simple!’ That’s always stuck me when I’ve gone through difficult moments.”