After 249th Goal Record, Jones Tasks Man Utd To Celebrate Rooney
Phil Jones has described Wayne Rooney as a credit to Manchester United, England and football after the captain equalled Sir Bobby Charlton’s long-standing goals record for the club.
Rooney opened his Reds account with a famous hat-trick against Fenerbahçe in 2004 and, some 13 years later, notched his 249th goal with the opener against Reading in Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Old Trafford.
The 31-year-old now needs just one more strike to make the record his own.
Jones, who replaced the injured Marcos Rojo at the weekend, spoke to reporters following the third-round victory to provide a personal tribute to Rooney and his latest achievement in the game. The excerpt of the interview is reproduced by Man. United’s website.
Firstly Phil, what is your reaction to Wayne equalling Sir Bobby’s record?
It is a tremendous achievement. We were all rooting for him to break that record and he has equalled it now so hopefully he can go one better now and I’m sure he will. He has been a fantastic servant, not just for Manchester United and England but football in general. He is a player who people idolise and look up to, so all credit to him.
It started with his hat-trick v Fenerbahçe in 2004 – do you remember that?
It was before my time here but I remember him doing it. I remember being sat at home watching on TV when he scored that goal for Everton against Arsenal [his first Premier League goal in October 2002]. He beat David Seaman from 30 yards, the ball hit the bar and went in. He’s a special player. Everyone knows that. At the moment he gets his share of criticism but he’s a phenomenal player and has been for many years. We should embrace him while he’s here because he won’t be around forever.
Do you think Wayne will be valued more when he retires?
Yeah, but we’ve got to appreciate him while he’s here now. He’s a fantastic player for what he’s done for club and country, and for football in general. Everyone looks up to him. He’s a world-class player and he will go down in history.
Tell us how important he is off the pitch in the dressing room and at the training ground?
He knows how to speak to everyone. He knows some players need a pat on the back and others need a talking to. Since I’ve been at the club he’s been terrific with me. It’s not just on the pitch, off the pitch he’s a great lad. He’s the most normal person you will ever meet. And that is what is so humbling about him.
Fame and fortune has never been an issue with him, has it?
Yeah, I never knew him when he was 17 years old but I can imagine he hasn’t changed one bit from what he was then to now. He is very professional in his approach to football, he takes it seriously and credit to the guy because, the age he is now, he still wants to carry on, still wants to be the best player, still wants to score goals and that is something everyone needs to aspire to.
Has he been a help for you personally over the years?
Yeah, definitely. He’s that guy. He’s the go-to guy. Everyone knows that. Everyone knows that the likes of him and Michael Carrick, they are the people in the dressing room that the lads certainly look up to. We are all proud of Wayne.
Does Wayne get on well with young players too?
Yep, everyone. He’s a nice guy. People can see if they need to speak to him they can do. They are not afraid. He doesn’t over-impose himself in the dressing room. He’s just a normal guy who loves football and full credit to him.
While Wayne and Michael Carrick may play fewer games, do they still make a vital contribution with their influence off the pitch?
Yeah, those two are so influential in the dressing room. We take them for granted now that they are here. But when they are not here anymore in the years to come we will look back and say ‘we could do with them now.’ So we need to appreciate them now.