Wayne Rooney was involved in a bitter confrontation on Wednesday night with an England supporter who exposed his penis at the 20-year-old forward and who can count himself fortunate to have received only an alleged V-sign in response.
The incident took place as a crowd gathered outside the Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb to rage against their team following the calamitous defeat to Croatia. With the England squad on board their coach awaiting a police escort, the majority of the congregation vented their frustration by chanting "You're not fit to wear the shirt", "What a load of rubbish" and calling for the return of exiled former captain David Beckham.
One supporter, however, singled out Rooney as he walked towards the team bus and launched a tirade of abuse. Though Rooney was condemned on England supporters' websites yesterday, several witnesses close to the player insist the diatribe was ignored until the supporter pulled down his zip, grabbed his penis and loudly informed the Manchester United striker that he wished to urinate on him. Rooney is then alleged to have raised two fingers at his odious aggressor.
A spokesman for the striker, who last month gave the Blackburn defender Michael Gray a black eye following an altercation in a Manchester restaurant and has also been named on a 30-man short-list for the Fifa World Player of the Year Award, said: "Any gesture Wayne may have made was directed to one, and only one, particular England fan, whose behaviour towards him appalled the other England players who saw it and horrified the rest of the England fans. Wayne has total respect for England fans. He accepts and understands their disappointment at Wednesday night's result."
The row delivered a distasteful end to a terrible night for England supporters who, along with having to watch Steve McClaren's side slide to defeat, were caught up in severe congestion at the turnstiles before the game. The Football Association has lodged an official protest with Uefa over the treatment of England fans by Croatian police in Zagreb, where many supporters without official tickets were allowed to infiltrate those who had purchased tickets through the established FA channels.
The FA director of communications, Adrian Bevington, explained: "The turnstiles were unexpectedly closed on two occasions during the build-up to the game, which created serious congestion. When the gates were re-opened, there was a surge forward by several hundred unofficially-ticketed England supporters towards the turnstiles. This caused the officially-ticketed fans to be forced towards the police cordon.
"The reaction of the police was to baton-charge many of those fans, leading to a number of well-behaved supporters being injured. We are still confirming the full details with the UK police who were present."Reuse content