Wayne Rooney face to face with David Beckham
DAVID BECKHAM has dismissed fears that Wayne Rooney will be mentally and physically burnt out for the World Cup finals this summer.
Beckham believes if Rooney can maintain his hot streak, he could become the first Englishman to lift both the Ballon d’Or and FIFA’s World Player of the Year awards at the same time.
Rooney is in the form of his life, his two goals against Beckham’s AC Milan in the San Siro on Tuesday taking him past his previous personal best for a season of 23 and well on course to smash the 30 mark for the first time. The one concern is that with Rooney being so crucial to Manchester United’s push for honours on three fronts, there could be nothing left in the tank when Fabio Capello takes his squad to South Africa in June.
Rooney has so far clocked up 38 appearances for club and country this season. That tally could reach nearly 60 if United get to the Champions League final on May 22.
But Beckham, who knows a thing or two about marathon campaigns, believes Rooney’s young legs, enthusiasm and adrenaline will carry him through.
“Burn-out won’t be a problem,” said Beckham. “Wayne is ready for any game. It doesn’t matter how many games he has played or how many he will be involved in to the end of the season. He will be ready for anything.
“Of course he can sustain this level until the middle of July. He should be able to – he is only 24 after all.
“He looks after himself and he works hard. The way he plays on the field is the way he plays in training and that is why he is so good.”
Rooney has scored 25 goals in all competitions this season, 17 coming in his last 17 games, and while Beckham hopes the streak comes to a temporary halt when Milan bid to retrieve a 3-2 deficit at Old Trafford on March 10, he is praying Rooney carries on scoring both for United and England, right through to a possible World Cup final appearance in July.
“Wayne was exceptional against us,” he said. “You give him chances and he will score goals. That is the way he is. That is the way his mind works. He was great.
“I wouldn’t like to see him do it again against us at Old Trafford next month, but I’d like it in the World Cup.
“Without a doubt he is one of the best goalscorers in the world. If he continues to do that then United will be even more successful than they are already. I have seen him since he was a young lad. I played when he made his debut for England and I have watched him score goals week-in, week-out and do it at the highest level. It’s amazing to see.
“I hope he is a contender for the World Player of the Year and Ballon d’Or. I would love to see him win every title possible.”
Beckham revealed how highly Rooney is rated in Italy, especially in Milan, where they have great respect for English players following the efforts of Ray Wilkins and Mark Hateley for the club in the Eighties.
“Wayne is looked upon as a great player in Italy. That is all the Italian people care about, whether he is doing the right thing and scoring goals. They see him scoring goals and working hard. The Italian people, and Milan fans especially, love people who work hard.”
Despite his lavish praise of Rooney, Beckham has warned his old club that Clarence Seedorf’s late goal means the last-16 tie is far from finished. And Beckham was left frustrated that Milan squandered chances to build on Ronaldinho’s early goal before United raced into a 3-1 lead.
“It is not over,” he said. “The second goal helps us out, but we know how difficult it is going to be. Nobody gets gifts when they go to Old Trafford. United have quality right through their side. We are going to have to work hard and play well and if we do that we have a chance.
“But you have to put your chances away, especially against a team such as United and a player such as Rooney.”
Beckham is expecting some retribution from Paul Scholes in the second leg after a clumsy challenge on his old team-mate.
He said: “It’s always good to get Scholesy first, but it was just a mistimed tackle. He just got back up again, but I’m sure if he gets the chance in the second leg, he’ll get me back.”