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Saturday, 11 October 2014

Why I can't stop playing street football despite earning 300k pounds a week - Rooney

Wayne Rooney is England captain and makes £300k a week but is still a street footballer at heart Oct 11, 2014 23:00 By Steve Bates Man United star set to lead the Three Lions in Estonia admits he can’t resist playing keepy-uppy with childhood pals when he goes home to Croxteth Laurence GriffithsOn the road to Paris: Street footballer Rooney aims to captain England to Euro 2016 He earns £300,000 a week and is living every schoolboy’s dream as captain of club and country but Wayne Rooney still loves a kick-around on the streets of Liverpool, writes Steve Bates in the Sunday People. And as the England and Manchester United striker zooms in on his 100th cap for the Three Lions next month, Rooney has confessed his football education on the streets of Croxteth has made him the player he is today. Even now, on his frequent trips back home to see family and friends on Merseyside, Rooney ­admits he can’t resist a game of keepy-­uppy with childhood pals in the road where they live. And though the adulation of 75,000 fans packed into Old Trafford or Wembley might be ­missing, he still gets a massive buzz from ­stepping back in time to when he was just a wannabe starlet on Everton’s books. Former United bosses Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes both ­labelled Rooney the last street ­footballer – a throwback to past ­generations of boys who honed their skills on the tarmac outside their homes. But as he approaches a milestone moment in his international career – probably against Slovenia at Wembley on November 15 – Rooney has given a glimpse of the street kid that still lurks inside. “I’ve always believed myself to be from the streets in terms of football,” he said. “I’ve always played on the streets with friends and still do now and again when I get time. “That is where I learned to play football. There was a lot of help along the way from the academy but the majority of my football was learned on the streets. “I still play out on the road, yes. Now and again I go back and see friends where I am from in Liverpool and we have a kick-around. “Everywhere we go, there is a ball. I’m obviously not running around but we stand there and have a kick-around. It’s keepy-ups and messing around.” Rooney, who will lead England out in Estonia today for his 99th cap, was in reflective mood as the reality dawned that he’s about to join English football’s most exclusive club. From pretending to be Everton hero Duncan Ferguson and England legend Paul Gascoigne in the school playground to scoring 42 times for his country – just seven off Sir Bobby Charlton’s record – it’s been a roller-coaster ride for the Scouser, who will be 29 later this month. “As a kid playing with my mates I was always an Everton player,” he said. “I loved Duncan Ferguson, then Paul Gascoigne joined the club – he wasn’t at Everton for long but he is obviously a hero with England. “As a youngster I used to love watching England. I remember the 1998 World Cup and the stand-out moment was Michael Owen’s goal against Argentina. That is when I really started watching England closely. “At Everton everything happened so quickly for me in terms of progressing through the youth team and then the first team. Then within six months I got into the England set-up. It is always a dream playing for England and ­thankfully I’ve done it many times.” Rooney still remembers with clarity his England debut as a 17-year-old – an unlikely friendly defeat by Australia at Upton Park in February 2003. “It was a bit strange. Australia at West Ham and we lost 3-1. The manager made changes at half time and I came on. It was great as me and Franny Jeffers played the second half up front together. We were from the same area and same school, and we had a few coaches coming up from the school taking the kids to watch. “I’d only just left school myself as well so it was a great day. As a kid I couldn’t even imagine getting 100 caps for my country – not even when I made my first appearance. Will Rooney break the England records for both goals and caps? YES NO “At that age you don’t look beyond the next game. You are lucky and it is a privilege to play for England in the games that I’ve clocked up. “It’s there now, two more games. I’ve always said that I don’t want to stop playing for England after I get 100 caps, I want to get many more after that and try to do my best for the team. “Everyone has seen the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole pass the 100-cap mark and hopefully I can do that. It will be a proud moment for me.” Rooney will become the youngest player to join England’s ton-up club. Asked what he’d say to his 17-year-old self ahead of that first England cap, Rooney struggled. “I don’t know what I’d tell him,” he said. “I have no regrets in what I’ve done. I’ve tried to do everything on the football field the best I can and have no regrets with any choices I’ve made.” follow me on twitters @waleojolanre