Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Klopp defends Rooney as FA probes party reports


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England’s captain Wayne Rooney leaves the pitch after the World Cup 2018 football qualification match between England and Malta at Wembley Stadium in London on October 8, 2016.
England won the game 2-0. / AFP PHOTO / Justin TALLIS

England captain Wayne Rooney faces a Football Association investigation over his role in a late-night hotel party, chief executive Martin Glenn said on Thursday.

Rooney was thrown into the spotlight after The Sun tabloid alleged he drunkenly gatecrashed a wedding at England’s team hotel in Watford, north of London, on Saturday.

A statement issued on Rooney’s behalf said the Manchester United forward was “sorry” the pictures had been published and recognised they were “inappropriate for someone in his position”.

Media reports said the FA has also spoken to up to 10 other England players who separately went to a London nightclub.

Glenn said claims members of England’s back-room staff joined Rooney at the wedding party would be investigated as well.

“We’re getting a proper investigation of what actually went on — were there other FA staff involved, yes or no? — and we’re doing a review of it, obviously,” Glenn told Sky Sports News.

“It’s disappointing. I think it’s appropriate he apologised because it doesn’t set a great tone for the England captain, but that said, I don’t want to over-dramatise it either.”

Glenn said the FA would not speak to Rooney’s United manager Jose Mourinho “because we’ll establish the (facts of the) matter ourselves”.

Jurgen Klopp, manager of United’s arch rivals Liverpool, said Rooney’s conduct should not be overexaggerated.

“I know we’re all on the sunny side of life, we earn a lot of money and do the job we love, but at the end maybe it comes as a surprise that we are also human beings too,” Klopp told a press conference.

“These boys, this generation, is the most professional generation of footballers that there has ever been.

“All the guys, all the legends we love and admire, they drank like devils and smoked like crazy, but they were still good players. No-one does it any more. I don’t know anyone now.”

– Southgate wants review –
Rooney started England’s 3-0 World Cup qualifying win over Scotland last Friday, but suffered a knee injury that ruled him out of Tuesday’s 2-2 friendly draw at home to Spain.

The wedding party occurred on the Saturday in between.

The statement from Rooney’s management team said the United skipper had spoken to interim England manager Gareth Southgate and FA technical director Dan Ashworth “to unreservedly apologise”.

“He would like to further extend that apology to any young fans who have seen these pictures,” it added.

Southgate, who is still waiting to hear whether he will get the England job full-time, said there was a need to review how the national team’s players spent their free time.

“Over the last few years, the players have been allowed to go home during a period of time,” Southgate told reporters after England’s 2-2 friendly draw with Spain at Wembley.

“They trained Saturday morning and they trained again on Sunday afternoon, and I gave the players a period of time off (in between). I’m not aware of anything else.

“There were lots of changes we made to routines. Some things we thought we should keep the same and I’ll have to review (it) — or maybe I won’t have to review! Someone will have to review it.”

Rooney was recalled by Southgate for the win over Scotland, having been dropped for England’s goalless draw in Slovenia, after winning back his place in the United first team.

But his status with both club and country appears uncertain as concerns grow over the 31-year-old’s waning powers.

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