Wayne Rooney has admitted he should not have gone to the 2006 World Cup, but says one of his career low point in fact helped Manchester United.
England’s all-time record goalscorer was a major pre-tournament doubt after breaking three metatarsals playing for Manchester United.
But, after getting fit in time, he then tore a groin in training and, rather than concede defeat, battled on.
Writing in the Sunday Times, he said of his recovery from the foot injury: “The next day was my first training session with the team. I don’t think anyone knows this, but we were jogging round the training pitch for the warm-up and there was a ball. I couldn’t resist.
“I hit it from the halfway line, trying to strike the crossbar and felt my groin tear. I knew straight away. I was: ‘Oh, f****** hell.’
“I got one of the physios to work quietly on it every day. I was taking painkillers. I didn’t want to say anything because a lot of people had put a lot of work into getting me fit. I didn’t report the injury until the tournament was over – and there was a 6cm tear in my groin.”
Rooney’s World Cup ended with a red card in England’s quarter-final loss to Portugal.
He added: “Looking back, I should never have gone to that World Cup. In the same position again, I’d rule myself out – and that’s why if the Euros were going ahead this summer I’d have said to Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford that if they were struggling in any way, not to push it.
“Of course it’s hindsight. Back then I was 20, it was my first World Cup and there was so much expectation on me. It was an impossible situation and if I had had senior players telling me not to go I wouldn’t have listened. But I learnt that you have to be 100 per cent fit — for everyone’s benefit — and I was never close to 100 per cent in Germany.
“Apart from the groin, I had just one week of training in a seven-week period and it was very difficult. The heat was incredible. I wasn’t the only player who struggled physically. Beckham was sick on the pitch versus Ecuador in our last-16 victory, and in that game I played as a lone striker. It was roasting and I remember our goalkeeper Paul Robinson — he used to love kicking the ball as far as he could — just launching it into the channels. I’m thinking: ‘What are you doing?’ I’m positive he was trying to hit the Spidercam that hangs over the pitch.”
Rooney also revealed that his sending off during England’s 2006 quarter-final against Portugal, when he stamped on Ricardo Carvalho, was a low point of his career, but in fact it helped “bond” himself and Cristiano Ronaldo and drove United to success.
Rooney said: “It ended with my red card against Portugal and an hour sitting alone in the dressing room that brought maybe my lowest feelings in football. But what came out of it was a bond between me and Cristiano Ronaldo that pushed us — and Manchester United — to the greatest highs.”