Wayne Rooney on why Manchester United thrived after Cristiano Ronaldo 'betrayal' at 2006 World Cup

TOM DUTTON
DDP/AFP via Getty Images

It was painted by the national press as a great betrayal, but Wayne Rooney doesn't reflect on Cristiano Ronaldo's actions at the 2006 World Cup that way.

Dismissed for a stamp on Ricardo Carvalho, Rooney was made the scapegoat by many for England's quarter-final defeat to Portugal. But it was the actions of United team-mate Ronaldo which stole many of the headlines, charging to the referee in the aftermath of the stamp before winking towards the Portugal bench as Rooney traipsed from the field.

"I put myself in Ronaldo's shoes. Would I do the same? Probably," Rooney admitted. "Would I be in the ref's face to make sure he got sent off? If he deserved the red, if it would help us win — yes, no question. I'd do it tomorrow.

"I thought: 'Actually, I tried to get him booked in the first half for diving.' And the wink thing, I didn't see anything in that at all. It was nothing."

"I went over to him afterwards in the tunnel. I felt it was important to speak to him while it was still fresh and to do it face to face. He gave me a look as if to say sorry but by then I had my United head on.

"I said I've no issues with you. Enjoy your tournament and good luck. I'll see you in a few weeks — and let's go try and win the league."

Rooney cooled and drew a line under the situation there, before either player had departed the stadium, but in his words the media "dragged it out all summer".

"We had [no issues]," he explained in his Sunday Times column, instead suggesting the incident had the opposite effect once both players had reported for duty with United for the 2006-07 campaign.

(AFP via Getty Images)

"In the first game of the new season we beat Fulham 5-1. I scored two and set him up for one and that calmed everything down. In the dressing room we were always really close. It was always the two of us doing pranks on the manager or other players. And what had happened brought us closer together on the pitch.

"The next three years were our best as a partnership and brought three titles and the Champions League. My red card in Gelsenkirchen was the starting point."

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