29/12/2009 08:42, Report by Ben Hibbs
Players of the Decade: #3
A true talisman, Wayne Rooney has been a consistent, pre-eminent presence since his Old Trafford arrival in 2004 – and what an arrival. His debut hat-trick in the 6-2 win over Fenerbahce on 28 September that year was typically explosive, setting the tone for what would follow.
Rooney is central to United’s attacking football, with pace, power, aggression, skill and craft in equal measure. Even when Cristiano Ronaldo was with us and at his peak, Rooney's inclusion in the starting line-up was often a more likely indicator of an all-round team display.
Many believe Rooney is a future captain. His burgeoning leadership skills and infectious enthusiasm bare comparison to Roy Keane, and he leads by example by consistently finding the net and with his all-consuming involvement in team play.
It’s easy to forget he’s only 24, has made over 250 appearances and scored more than 100 goals. He may top a similar list in 10 years’ time, but for now we’re delighted with his contribution so far.