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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Rooney in his own words

Wayne Rooney has revealed that he wept tears of despair as he sat in the dressing room following his controversial sending-off in England's ill-fated World Cup quarter-final defeat by Portugal.

In his new autobiography, My Story So Far - serialised exclusively in The Mail on Sunday today - Rooney says he was initially "too angry to cry" after being sent off but broke down after being consoled by his England team-mates in the dressing room following their defeat on penalties.

"The players came over to me, one by one, said things like: 'Don't worry, Wazza, it wasn't your fault...don't be too upset'", says Rooney. "That was when, for the first time, I felt a few tears come into my eyes. I don't cry often. And I hadn't cried when I'd been sent off. I was beginning to feel sad - this time for them, rather than myself. I didn't feel guilty about what had happened because I still felt innocent. But my sending-off had let them down. Because of me, for whatever reason, they'd been made to struggle on with only 10 men."

Rooney insists that, despite suggestions in some reports, he did not try to confront his Manchester United team-mate, Cristiano Ronaldo, even though the Portugal winger appeared to encourage the referee to send Rooney off after he clashed with Chelsea's defender, Ricardo Carvalho.

Rooney says he and Ronaldo will have no problem training together at United next season and he claims that, while he was angry with Ronaldo for encouraging the referee to punish him, he had calmed down enough after the game to send a conciliatory text message to his United team-mate.

Rooney said: "I was disappointed by Ronny (Ronaldo) trying to get me carded and I gave him a bit of a push in the chest (on the pitch). But that was it. By the next morning I was no longer angry over what had happened, or even with Ronny. It seemed that the papers were trying to stir it up, rubbishing him, blaming him.

"They reported that, after the game, while I was still in our dressing room, I had tried to get into the Portuguese dressing room in order to hit Ronny. That's not true. By then, such a thought wasn't even going through my mind.

"What the papers didn't know, and probably will never believe, is that on the coach, on the way home after the game, I sent a text to Ronny. I told him to forget about what happened. I wasn't blaming him for interfering. Then I wished him and Portugal good luck in the semis and hoped they got to the final. And I meant it.

"On the BBC studio panel, Alan Shearer said that when I met up with Ronny again in training, I should 'stick one on him'. I think Alan said that in the heat of the moment. England had just been knocked out and he was choked, as we all were. But I never thought like that, not once it was all over."

Relating his version of the explosive incident in the 62nd minute of the game, when he appeared to stamp on Carvalho's groin, he said: "I honestly thought I was going to be awarded a free-kick. Each of the (Portuguese) defenders had fouled me, so I thought, in trying to get the ball off me.

"By this time, Ronny had run up, though it was nothing to do with him, he hadn't been involved in the incident. He appeared to be telling the ref I should get a card. And then to my amazement the ref was putting his hand up in the air. With a red card. For me. I was off. All I felt was disbelief.

"In being forced back, I had trod on the player on the ground, I realised that. It turned out to be Carvalho. And I was aware that my foot had landed between his legs, which, of course, is about the nastiest place to get hurt, but it was an accident.

"I couldn't believe that the ref, who was so near, hadn't realised that. Perhaps he was too near. What he saw, close up, was the player on the ground and then my foot going into his groin. I'll go to my grave and still maintain it was a complete accident. I hadn't intended to do it.

"If you study the photographs, you'll see that when I fell I had my back to the player. I couldn't see him, or where I was putting my foot.

"If you think about it, if I'd done it deliberately, if it had been a definite stamp meant to harm him, the fella would still be in hospital to this day. But he was up on his feet in minutes, no worse for wear."

Rooney denies that he has a problem with anger and says that he will not have therapy to curb his frequent red cards. He said: "Another paper said I was going to have anger management therapy. They even named a Manchester woman I had gone to, and was going to see again, so they said. It was all rubbish. I've never seen such a person, and never would.

"Other papers said I was a disgrace, I'd behaved like a thug. Well, that's their opinion. But it's all wrong. Standing on Carvalho was a total accident."

Rooney does reveal that he would rather have played in a 4-4-2 formation than as a lone striker against Portugal but he refuses to criticise former England coach Sven Goran Eriksson for his tactics.

Rooney said: "If it had been my decision, I would probably have preferred Peter Crouch up front, with me behind, but it wasn't my shout. You have to believe the manager knows best. Which I did. I had complete trust in him, that he was doing the best thing in the circumstances.

"Some so-called experts have said that my anger on the pitch, resulting in the red card, was all Sven's fault. I had been forced into a role, given too much responsibility. But I think it could have happened at any time, in any match.

"Sven wanted to pack the midfield. We all knew, and understood that was our plan. I didn't moan about it - and now it's long over, I'm not complaining. It seemed right at the time."


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