Nielsen: 'Rooney no problem for me'

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Rooney's return to England duty, following a suspension prompted by the yellow card he received against Northern Ireland in Belfast on 7 September, just happens to coincide with an appearance at Old Trafford by the Danish referee who dismissed him for sarcastically applauding a booking in Manchester United's Champions' League fixture at Villarreal on 15 September. "I will think nothing for Rooney, about Rooney, before the match," Nielsen said in an interview to be screened on Sky Sports News today. "If he acts properly during the match towards me, then I will have no need to remember him. It is finished, we start from zero. I will not feel under any extra pressure. I have plenty of experience in dealing with players after I have sent them off in a previous game."

Nielsen, of course, famously red-carded David Beckham for petulantly kicking out at Diego Simeone during England's World Cup match against Argentina in St-Etienne in 1998. "I do not have a problem with England internationals," he said. "The incident is the most important thing for me, not where the player comes from. Everybody agreed about my decision to send off Rooney, and I have read in David Beckham's book that he said his red card was OK. I think it will be a very important match for both England and Poland... The advantage is that they will be the top two teams, so I know what I am dealing with."

Asked about Rooney and his apparent disregard for referees, Nielsen said: "I can only say what I dealt with against Villarreal, and we saw he didn't respect me in that game... I think he is very young but has an excellent future. He is a very good player."

In addition to dismissing Rooney from the field in the El Madrigal Stadium, Nielsen also reported him to Uefa for using foul and abusive language. It earned Rooney a two-match ban in the Champions' League.

Asked about the United manager Sir Alex Ferguson's reported claim that Rooney had said "well done" to him and had not sworn, Nielsen could not suppress his mirth. "I think the body language shows that this is not correct," he replied, laughing.


5 July 1966: Friendly

Poland 0 England 1

Less than a week before the World Cup began, plain Alf Ramsey's team played their last warm-up match - and fourth game in 10 days. Roger Hunt's early goal from 30 yards brought a seventh successive victory but, more significantly, 10 of the side would go on to play in the final at Wembley - Geoff Hurst for Jimmy Greaves being the only change from Chorzow.

6 June 1973: World Cup

Poland 2 England 0

Only Martin Peters, Bobby Moore and Alan Ball survived to the next meeting, also in Chorzow, and it was an even blacker day for the latter pair than their team-mates. For the first goal Wlodzimierz Lubanski's shot bounced off Moore, whom the striker dispossessed to score the second. Ball was sent off near the end.

17 October 1973: World Cup

England 1 Poland 1

Defeat four months earlier meant England needed a win to qualify for the finals in West Germany, which was regarded by most as a formality. After 35 attempts on goal it should have been, but only one of them - Allan Clarke's penalty - went in and that was no more than an equaliser, Jan Domarski having scored following Norman Hunter's error.

11 June 1986: World Cup

England 3 Poland 0

With Bryan Robson's shoulder popping out like a cuckoo from a clock, Ray Wilkins suspended after an uncharacteristic red card and England taking one point from two games, the last group match in Monterrey was crucial for Bobby Robson's men at the finals. Four changes were made, 4-3-3 became 4-4-2, as the players preferred, and Gary Lineker's first-half hat-trick won the day.

11 October 1989: World Cup

Poland 0 England 0

Yet another decisive World Cup qualifier; despite having not conceded a goal in five group matches, Robson's side still required a draw in the sixth one and achieved it only after Peter Shilton's crossbar had been rattled in the final minute. Shilton, 40, was still first choice in goal, playing his 111th international 16 years after the famous Wembley game.

13 November 1991: European Championship

Poland 1 England 1

Once more qualification for a major tournament came down to a fixture with Poland, who moved it to a cramped little ground in Poznan. Graham Taylor picked one of his more eccentric sides, with first caps for Andy Gray, Andy Sinton and substitute Tony Daley. Poland led for 45 minutes, until Lineker's fine volley on the turn earned the point England needed.

Steve Tongue