Football

Rooney the Great

Tributes pour in for the Man United No. 10, whose 250th goal makes him the club's record goalscorer

Wayne Rooney earned a collective salute from the football world yesterday morning (Singapore time) after becoming Manchester United's most prolific goalscorer.

After netting his record-breaking 250th goal for the Premier League giants in a 1-1 draw against Stoke City, Rooney's achievement was lauded by Bobby Charlton, the player whose landmark he had surpassed.

After watching him score a fittingly dazzling stoppage-time free-kick, Charlton - whose England scoring record was also broken by Rooney - congratulated the United No. 10 in the dressing room.

Charlton, who scored the last of his 249 United goals more than 40 years ago, told the United website: "I must admit that I have become used to the honour of being the club's all-time top goalscorer.

"I would be lying to say that I'm not disappointed to have lost the record. However, I can honestly say that I'm delighted for Wayne. He deserves his place in the history books.

"He is a true great for club and country, and it is fitting that he is now the highest goalscorer for both United and England."

Former United manager Alex Ferguson, who signed Rooney from Everton in 2004, also offered his congratulations.

"Wayne thoroughly deserves his place in the history books of this great club and I am sure that he will go on to score many more," Ferguson said.

Rooney's current manager, Jose Mourinho, was generous with his praise, too.

PHENOMENAL

Describing his goal against Stoke as "phenomenal", he added: "Before him the record belonged to a legend of English football. Now, Wayne becomes a legend of Manchester United."

Rooney's goal might have cost Stoke a precious win, but Potters boss Mark Hughes clearly appreciated the enormity of the feat he had just witnessed.

Hughes, a former United striker, said: "It is unbelievable.

"Sir Bobby's record has stood for 40-odd years, so it tells you how difficult it is.

"A lot of good strikers have come and gone in that time, and not got anywhere near it.

"Clearly, we didn't want it to happen today, but he has done that throughout his career.

"You only have to give top players one opportunity and that is what he had."

For Rooney, it was a dream come true, especially coming in a season which his contribution to the team has been constantly questioned.

He told Sky Sports: "(It means) a hell of a lot. It's something I never expected when I joined the club, but I'm really proud and hopefully there's a lot more to come."

Charlton is certain that the goals will continue to flow from Rooney.

He pointed out that he was 35 when he retired, and that Rooney is still only 31.

Said Charlton: "I don't think he's done by a long stretch yet. He will raise the bar even further before he calls it a day.

"Now he's the man to beat, and I can't see anybody doing that for a long, long time." - Wire Services

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