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Friday 9 December 2016

'Team player' Rooney in his biggest test

Wayne Rooney turns 30 tomorrow but has already shown signs of decline in his performances for United.
Wayne Rooney turns 30 tomorrow but has already shown signs of decline in his performances for United.

Birthday boy Wayne Rooney wants to be remembered as a team player above all else when the curtain comes down on his career.

Louis van Gaal's captain turns 30 on the eve of the Manchester derby at Old Trafford on Sunday and he has been in a reflective mood.

"I'm sure if you follow my career over the years, I've always been a team player. I want to score goals but the main aim is to be a team player - and that's what I'll continue to do," said Rooney.

This season has seen Rooney elevated to the status of national institution in England and his achievement in beating Bobby Charlton's England goals record was universally celebrated as a major event.

But Rooney's only ambition, it would seem, has been to contribute to those around him in a group effort.

"There's nothing better than being successful as a team, to enjoy it with the players and coaches you've worked with. It's an amazing feeling," he said.

Rooney faces into this derby amid mounting questions about his pace and ability to lead Manchester United's line and while he has been staunchly defended by his boss Louis van Gaal, the growing presence of Anthony Martial has highlighted ageing legs.

Martial has already set a startling pace with five goals in nine games and his scoring rate makes another Manchester United great look average by comparison.

Ronaldo, took 39 games to do the same thing and Martial's instant acceptance by the Old Trafford faithful places even more pressure on Rooney to perform.

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