Manchester United ambassador Gary Neville has challenged Wayne Rooney to reinvent himself and follow the examples set by Reds team-mates Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes.
Friday is the 10th anniversary of Rooney’s first Premier League goal for Everton and at the tender age of 26, Neville insists “there is more to come” from his former club-mate at Old Trafford.
However, the Reds legend and current England coach believes Rooney “must improve” in order to face “the next challenge of his career”, referencing Giggs and Scholes as ideal role models.
“At the age of 26 you have to think there is more to come,” Neville told BBC Sport. “You can’t get to the age of 26 and think your best years have gone. He has to now challenge himself and that challenge will always exist when you are playing for Manchester United and England.
“At the highest level of football you need to keep reinventing yourself. He has got great examples there of players who have continued to do that in Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, players who have adapted their games.
“Giggs has gone from being a flying out and out winger to somebody who plays off the front, plays inside left and plays in central midfield. Scholes was a goalscoring, off the front, number 10 when he first started playing as a 16-year-old. Now he is a holding midfield player who controls the game.
“You have to adapt. Wayne Rooney is still a centre forward but he will adapt over these next 10 years to continue to become someone who is thought of in that same way as those two players that I have just mentioned.”
Rooney was handed the captain’s armband for England’s 5-0 win over San Marino last Friday, an honour that recognises his burgeoning maturity. In return, the Reds striker scored twice, moving to fifth - overtaking Tom Finney, Nat Lofthouse and Alan Shearer – in the list of all-time Three Lions scorers.
After working with Rooney on a daily basis on international duty for the last week, and having enjoyed seven seasons alongside him at United before retiring in 2011, Neville is excellently poised to assess the forward’s current form and