United celebrate in Moscow.

What Rooney did before the Moscow final

Tuesday 24 November 2020 12:19

Wayne Rooney has revealed one of the ways in which he prepared for Manchester United’s 2008 Champions League final clash with Chelsea, in Moscow, and it’s something you probably would never have expected.

During a fascinating chat on UTD Podcast, the club’s leading goalscorer discussed not being able to sleep the night before the European showpiece and then the matchday itself dragging on given the late kick-off in Russia due to the time difference.

In a bid to occupy his mind on the morning of the final, Wayne decided to put on a film, but it wasn’t a football or sports film, it was none other than the movie made famous by Whoopi Goldberg, ‘Sister Act 2’!

The sequel, released a year after the original in 1993, is subtitled 'Back in the Habit' and also stars veteran actress Maggie Smith.

“It was the longest day ever,” he recalled. “It was an 11 o’clock kick-off over there or something. For me, that’s an absolute nightmare. For those night kick-offs, I don’t sleep.

“I remember I watched Sister Act 2 on my laptop in the hotel room. I used to do that – put a movie on or watch something on YouTube just to take my mind off the game. I just remember it being the longest day ever really and just wanting the game to come. Obviously when it did, it went into extra-time, so it was a long game as well.”

Asked whether there was lots of team meetings and video analysis before the final, Wayne added: “Less so because we knew Chelsea inside out so there was less than if it was a foreign team. You’d be looking at video clips of teams usually. Of course you’d know the [European] players but you wouldn’t know them as well as you knew the Chelsea lads. We knew what to expect with Chelsea and I knew their defenders’ strengths and weaknesses inside out as well.

“The important thing [on matchday] is not to let your mind wander and the big thing I have, still to this day, is I never think about winning the game. I’m always thinking about what happens if we lose and that fear of losing the game. It’s more about me trying to control that.”

UTD Podcast: How Wayne prepared for Moscow Video

UTD Podcast: How Wayne prepared for Moscow

"It was the longest day ever," says Rooney, discussing his unusual preparation for the 2008 Champions League final...

While winning the Champions League was an obvious career high for Rooney, our former captain still points to the real satisfaction he got from domestic success.

“It’s a tough one because in the Champions League you’re playing against the so-called best teams in Europe and it’s a massive trophy to win. But growing up, the Premier League was the one. I always look back as a kid and I watched the Champions League but I never thought ‘I’d love to play in that’. It was always the Premier League, and FA Cup as well. That was the only trophy I saw as a fan in ’95 [when Everton beat United]. To go and captain Man United to winning that, also the first time I’d won it, was a really special moment.

“They’re all different and unique in their different ways. I think that first Premier League… Chelsea had been on a run where they looked really strong so to win it and to break that as well, it was special. If I could pick one I’d pick that.”