Zlatan Ibrahimovic called for more respect to be shown to Wayne Rooney after the Manchester United captain became the club’s record goalscorer in Europe.
Rooney’s delightful chipped opener in the 4-0 Europa League home win over Feyenoord moved him beyond Ruud van Nistelrooy to a new highest tally of 39 United goals in continental competitions – while also taking him to 248 for the club overall, just one behind their all-time top scorer Sir Bobby Charlton.
The 31-year-old United and England skipper has been in the headlines of late following the publication of images of him, in Three Lions gear, appearing worse for wear during the recent international break, with Rooney reported to have been up until the early hours at a wedding at The Grove hotel.
Having subsequently issued a public apology over the “inappropriate” pictures, Rooney then last weekend labelled the way he has been treated by the media as “disgraceful”.
After the Feyenoord game he hit out again, suggesting “people in the media (are) making a big deal over nothing” and claiming he “didn’t even step foot into the wedding”.
United striker Ibrahimovic, who teed up Rooney for his goal in Thursday’s match, said: “I think when you’re famous like that, people are interested, they want to know everything.
“I don’t know what has happened, I didn’t even ask him because it’s not important for me and I’m 100 per cent sure the media doesn’t know what really happened.
“I think we should appreciate him for the player he is, what he did. I don’t see many players from England who have had the same career as him.
“I feel a little bit sorry of the situation because we should show more respect for him. Everybody wants to make a little thing a big thing.”
Ibrahimovic added of Rooney: “As a person he’s fantastic. As a player, he’s the perfect player.
“I’m happy for him to break the record and I will help him to go one more – then I see it as the real record.”