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06th Feb 2022

Wayne Rooney: I would lock myself away and drink for two days

Ahead of the launch of his Amazon Prime documentary, Wayne Rooney has opened up about how he would lock himself away in his early days of fame

Reuben Pinder

“I made a lot of mistakes.”

Wayne Rooney has opened up about the methods he would use to attempt to cope with fame in his late teens and early 20s. Having shot to stardom at the age of 16, before taking Euro 2004 by storm at 18 and signing for Manchester United the same summer, Rooney’s rise was faster than most.

His footballing brilliance was the dominant narrative of his career but there were plenty of unsavoury tabloid headlines that formed part of the vicious circle that led to Rooney using alcohol as a coping mechanism.

“Really, I locked myself away,” Rooney told The Times.

“There were times you’d get a couple of days off from football and I would actually lock myself away and just drink, to try to take all that away from my mind. People might know I liked a drink at times or went out, but there was a lot more to it than just that. It was what was going on in my head.”

The former United and Everton forward described his habits as “like a binge, but normally that’s with a group of lads — this was a self-binge basically, which helps you forget things but when you come out of it, you are going back to work and it is still there, so it was doing more damage than good.”

Rooney admitted that the environment at United was not one that encouraged him to speak to anyone about this problem.

“Now, people would be more empowered to speak about that kind of thing,” he said.

“Back then, in my head and with other players, there was no way I could just go into the dressing room and start saying this is how I am feeling because you just wouldn’t do it. Then you would end up suffering internally rather than letting your thoughts out.”

Having mellowed in in his latter years and adapted well to (one of the hardest jobs in) management, Rooney is leading Derby County’s fight for survival as they attempt to climb out of danger despite a 21 point deduction.

Rooney is available to watch on Amazon Prime from Friday.