In the latest instalment of Wayne Rooney’s autobiography, which is currently being printed in The Mirror, our striker reflects on his red card at the World Cup in 2006. Ronaldo was one of five Portuguese players who was complaining to the ref but the press in this country blamed him not only for Rooney’s red card, but for England’s exit from the tournament, despite the game finishing in a draw and Gerrard, Lampard and Carragher all missing their penalties.
On the opening day of the following season, United smashed Fulham 5-1, with Rooney and Ronaldo repeatedly linking up well and both of them scoring.
This is what Rooney had to say about it all:
The papers decide we’re not going to work together because of an incident that happened during the 2006 World Cup. In England’s quarter-final against Portugal – Ronaldo’s Portugal – I got tangled up with their defender, Ricardo Carvalho, and accidentally stuck a boot on him. It looked bad, but actually it was a total accident.
As I protested my innocence, Ronnie started waving an imaginary card around, getting in the ref’s face. The official pulled out the red and I was off. An early bath. Tournament over.
When I walked to the tunnel, I knew I couldn’t really blame Ronaldo for what had happened because he was trying to win the game for his country. Besides, in the first half I’d tried to get him booked for diving, so I was as bad as him really. But moments after my card, Ronaldo started winking at the sidelines, and to people watching the game on the telly it looked bad, like he was dead pleased about it.
Down to 10 men, England then went out on pens and all hell broke loose – everyone immediately decided that Ronaldo and I were the best of enemies, and his wink would spell trouble for United in the coming months. I knew what was in store, so when I bumped into him in the tunnel after the game I gave him a heads up.
‘The fans will be going mad over this one,’ I said. ‘They’ll be trying to make a big deal of it, so we’ll just have to get on with things as normal because there will be talk all summer.’
He understood, he’s a bright lad, but not long afterwards the papers reckoned he was off to Real Madrid; apparently me and him weren’t talking, which was absolute rubbish. The truth is I like Ronaldo, always have done. He’s a good lad and great to have around the dressing room.
The United lads loved the drama, though. Everyone gave us stick and when we turned up for the first session back at the club someone even brought in a pair of boxing gloves, as if the pair of us were going to have a scrap before we warmed up for the morning. But after our first practice game together, everything was as right as rain. I could tell that we were going to have a cracking season.