Messi: Rooney is ‘once in a generation’

Matt Stead

Barcelona star Lionel Messi has heaped praise on Wayne Rooney, whom he labels as a “once in a generation” player.

Messi was asked for his thoughts on Rooney after the England striker broke Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record for the national team.

Rather than speaking in dull platitudes, Messi actually went all out in his eulogising of Rooney’s record and talent.

“Wayne Rooney is for me a once in a generation player. One of those special players, who is not comparable to any other,” Messi said.

“There are many special players, but Rooney has exceptional quality and technical ability as well as being one of the strongest players I have faced with an exceptional work rate – there is nobody like him.”

Despite lavishing Rooney with significant personal praise, Messi also made the point that individual records come second to the success of the team, both at club and country. He feels that Rooney’s feelings are aligned with his own on that matter.

“Rooney is a winner. He will just be focused on success with England in the European Championship.

“I have always said the same is true of myself and Argentina – breaking caps and goals records mean nothing unless they come with trophies. Like I say, Wayne is a winner. It will always be the team first and personal records second.”