Wes Brown: Wazza's celebration said it all!
To mark the 10th anniversary of Wayne Rooney's stupendous overhead kick against Manchester City, we spoke to Wes Brown about his pal's greatest goal.
It is little wonder the strike is widely considered to be United's best in Premier League history and Wes gave us his take on watching it fly in from the substitutes' bench.
Our former defender also provided his view on Wayne's move into management, saying it was something his old colleague was always passionate about doing, and there is a word on Teden Mengi, who is working under Rooney during his loan at Derby County.
"Probably not! I didn’t actually play in that game. I was on the bench. I mean, what a goal! Just the fact we’re playing Manchester City, as well. He’s scored a lot of goals but for the situation and the time we were playing them, when they were changing the team a little bit, it was probably the best goal he ever scored."
He says it is the best of his career and it’s difficult to disagree with that…
"I always remember the Newcastle one as well [at Old Trafford]. I always remember that because I scored in it as well! It was brilliant but the overhead kick is just one of them. The cross from Nani and, first of all, honestly, they go anywhere those shots. With the circumstances and the situation we were in, it was unbelievable. You can tell by the celebrations that he knows it’s a big one."
"No. I’m going to say no because it was something you don’t necessarily try, unless the ball is in that position, I suppose. I’m not going to say he tried it a lot, but he definitely had the ability to do it. I think those ones are just pure instinct – not many people can do it."
Some people say it hit his shin but the experts often reckon it’s not always best to hit shots with your instep – they can be more difficult to save when you don’t hit the ball cleanly…
"I just think the main thing is the timing. It’s all that matters really. Yes, it does come off his shin a little but the timing of it is absolute perfection. He knows exactly where he wants to make contact with it and, as long as he gets the timing right, I’m guessing that’s what he is thinking when he is in the air and going backwards. He gets the timing right, that’s the most important thing, and whether it hits him on the shin or foot, he directed it in the right direction."
What do you remember after the ball hit the net? The place went absolutely mad, didn’t it?
"Crazy. I think it’s one of the best goals I’ve ever seen and, again, especially playing City, as they were starting to put a good team together as well. So the game was very important and to score that topped it off really. It let everyone know we were still about."
You’re close to Wayne. Was he saying it was his best goal afterwards and how was he in the dressing room? He must’ve been pleased…
"I suppose it’s not something you say straight away. You don’t ask those questions really. It was just ‘what a goal’. You could tell that he was absolutely delighted with it as well. It’s not a goal you score every day. Wayne scored so many goals but that one is different to most, probably due to how high he went into the air, the timing to get the contact with it first and then to put it on target."
"I’m sure it was. Contract talks are always tough, especially [for] someone in Wayne’s position as he was world class. So I’m sure that goal definitely helped get the fans back on his side and, obviously, he scored many more afterwards as well. He would never let the team down, Wayne. He always gave it everything he had. If he got an assist or a goal, he would always be proud of what he had done."
It always gets voted our best Premier League goal or Goal of the Decade and most people we talk to usually select it as their favourite. Even a decade on, it seems that isn’t going to change…
"Yeah, it’s tough as you don’t see many like it. As I said, the whole technique of it and where both teams were and who we were playing against. It all needs to be taken into account and, because of that, it is definitely the one."
Wayne’s starting out in management now – are you sure he’ll be as successful in that as he has been with everything else in his career?
"Yeah, you know, it was something he always wanted to do. He’s definitely got the character for it. He’s very strong minded, very committed as well and, being a boss now at Derby, I’m sure he’ll take as much experience from being a player and, obviously, with the managers he’s had as well in there. But, like I said, he’s got his own personality and one of the best things is he speaks his mind. He has got the characteristics to become a good manager. It’s early doors but we’ll see what he can do. I’m sure he’ll get better and learn all the time."
Is it a testament to him that he’s going into management, and all the hassles that come with it, when he’s played for so long at the highest level that he could have just retired and be done with it? Does it show how much he loves football?
"He has always talked about it and a lot of players from our era are going into management – Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard. So he’s passionate about it and, like I’ve said, he’s got the job now and it’ll be a great start to what hopefully is a great managerial career as well."
One of our young lads, Teden Mengi, has gone there on loan – what a great experience for him, working under Wayne…
"It’s a great signing. Obviously, he wasn’t probably going to play much in the first team this season, now we’re coming into the second half of it, and I’m sure he’ll be delighted to get some senior football. I know Wayne really likes him. Teden is just starting out in his career and showing everybody what he’s about. He’ll want to play well and, from what I’m hearing and what I’ve seen, he’s a very talented boy – very focused and a big, strong lad as well. He is very good in his position and, hopefully, he brings something to Derby as well. He’s starting early on in his career so hopefully Wayne gets him going on a nice little path."
Finally, United cannot afford any slip-ups this weekend, at West Brom, but do you think it’s going to be difficult catching City at the top now anyway?
"It’s going to be tight and all we can do is keep playing well, improving and trying to pick up points. City are flying at the moment and are obviously the ones to catch. But this season has been very unpredictable. I think City have got a nice little lead now and they’ll probably just keep focusing on picking up wins. All we can do is, although we have improved again this season and got better, we’ve got to keep pushing them. We must keep improving mentally as well, and not just on the pitch. I always say, at the beginning of this season, the outside world wouldn’t have thought United would be where we are now. It’s still not where we want to be, but it’s an improvement and we’ve just got to keep it going."