‘Cristiano Ronaldo’s wink was nothing’ – Wayne Rooney opens up on ‘worst feeling’ of his career

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England and Manchester United’s all time highest goalscorer Wayne Rooney has opened up about what he regards as the worst feeling he’s had in his football career of almost two decades.

Wayne Rooney in the 2006 World Cup clashed with then Manchester United teammate Cristiano Ronaldo during the quarter final game between England and Portugal.

Rooney’s World Cup participation in the 2006 Germany World Cup ended in controversial style as Ronaldo played a role in the dismissal of Wayne Rooney who was red-carded for a second half stamp on Ricardo Carvalho.

Portugal star, Ronaldo encouraged the referee to send off his Manchester United teammate Rooney and then was caught on camera winking as Rooney was sent off. England subsequently lost on penalties after a scoreless draw, as Ronaldo converted the decisive kick for a 3-1 success.

But Rooney says he immediately forgave Ronaldo even though that was the worst feeling he has had on his
career.

“There was a clear foul, the former Chelsea defender Ricardo Carvalho was pulling and pushing me and Petit came in from the other side,” Rooney wrote in his column for The Times.

“Referee Horacio Elizondo did nothing and I planted my foot down on Carvalho — it one of those moments when you’re not thinking.

“I knew it was a red card and back in the dressing room I watched the rest of the game on a little TV, thinking: ‘If we win this, I’m suspended for a World Cup semi-final and final and if we lose it’s my fault.’ It was the worst, weirdest feeling I’ve had in football.

“I had my phone in my hand and I was getting all these messages about Ronaldo. Of course, when he ran over to ask Elizondo to send me off I pushed him away. In that moment I couldn’t believe what he was doing. But sitting in that dressing room gave me time to calm down and think.

“I put myself in Ronaldo’s shoes. Would I do the same? Probably. Would I be in the ref’s face to make sure he got sent off? If he deserved the red, if it would help us win — yes, no question. I’d do it tomorrow. I thought: ‘Actually, I tried to get him booked in the first half for diving.’ And the wink thing, I didn’t see anything in that at all. It was nothing.

“So I calmed down. I went over to him afterwards in the tunnel. I felt it was important to speak to him while it was still fresh and to do it face to face. He gave me a look as if to say sorry but by then I had my United head on. I said I’ve no issues with you. Enjoy your tournament and good luck. I’ll see you in a few weeks — and let’s go try and win the league.”