Rooney in awe of the ghosts of Munich

As if the prospect of a new beginning for England were not enough to dwell on, tonight carries a more profound significance for Wayne Rooney than for most of those whom Fabio Capello will send out at Wembley.

The meaning of the 50th anniversary of the Munich disaster has been demonstrated graphically to United's squad in recent days and Rooney, perhaps more than any of the club's non-Mancunians, has been deeply affected by the DVD of the disaster the players have been shown and by an accompanying talk provided by Sir Bobby Charlton. He says he will carry that into the Switzerland game.

"It will be a big day," Rooney said. "I'm sure something will happen with the Switzerland game in terms of remembering those who lost their lives." The FA has settled on holding a minute's silence at Wembley, after discussions with United, despite fears that some fans may try to sabotage it."The important thing is paying our respects and making sure those who died are remembered," Rooney added.

Comparisons between Rooney and Duncan Edwards – today's great English hope is just a year older than his forerunner was when he died 15 days after the crash – are irresistible, even though Sir Bobby waves away suggestions that Rooney's name can be uttered in the same breath as Edwards' just yet. "It's not even worth mentioning," he says. "We can talk about Wayne Rooney when he's retired."

But Rooney, a player not generally given to making public pronouncements, had more to say than most of his team-mates when asked to talk about Munich recently and that DVD, combined with the huge image of Sir Matt Busby's team lining up before their last game against Red Star Belgrade, which hangs in their Carrington dressing room, has evidently hit a nerve. "It wasn't easy to watch the DVD," he admitted. "It was extremely sad. Obviously, we saw the way they were playing before the disaster and you could see they were a good, young team growing together. It was incredible that the team was playing again [in the FA Cup against Sheffield Wednesday] only two weeks after the crash."

Sir Bobby's influence around Old Trafford seems to be an important one, on a surprising number of levels, for Rooney. "You see him around the club all the time [and] he's really easy to talk to," said Rooney. "You can speak to him about anything: your personal life, your football, anything. Just speaking to him you can see how much he loves the club and how much it means to him. It was fascinating to speak to him about the disaster, hear his story of what happened and learn a bit more about the history of what happened."

Sir Bobby evidently did not pull too many punches about the burden of responsibility the United players carry when he addressed them on Munich at Carrington, a few weeks back. "He put a bit of pressure on us to win [the European Cup]," Rooney said. "It would be a great achievement for us to win [it], not just for ourselves, but for the Busby Babes themselves. He said how fitting it would be."

Rooney seems to appreciate the financial gulf between Edwards' days and his own, but he insisted that their motivations were the same. "To be a footballer, whether it's now, 10 years ago, 20 years ago or 50 years ago, is something you just love doing," he said. "Obviously, we get some great rewards [now] and are able to enjoy the finer things in life, but I've said many times that if I wasn't a professional footballer I'd be playing down the park with my mates every weekend. It's something we just love doing.

"I'm sure the players of 50 years ago would have loved to be playing now with everything that comes with the modern game. I'm sure most of them probably could have played in today's game. There's a big responsibility on us as players these days, and we have to try to live up to that responsibility."

For a player whose club manager has told him to relax if he wants to score more goals, there are more than enough reflections to carry into one match.

Suggested Topics
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballStriker in talks over £17m move from Manchester United
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
boksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor