The great and the good of the World Cup coaches – and Raymond Domenech – gathered here this week ahead of this summer's World Cup finals and when it came to discussing England's chances in June there was one man who kept coming up in conversation. From Berlin to Algiers and Ljubljana to Canberra, it was Wayne Rooney who captured the imagination.
Rooney's two goals against West Ham on Wednesday night took his total to 19 in 19 games and 27 for the season. Cristiano Ronaldo has 18 goals in 17 starts for Real Madrid. Carlos Queiroz, formerly assistant manager at Manchester United, said that whatever Rooney's achievements, Ronaldo was the better player but some of the other assembled coaches were not so sure.
Joachim Löw Germany
"Wayne who? Wayne? Wayne? Who is that? No, I know him all right! At the moment he is one of the very best strikers in the world. I can't say who is the best, because players are different. Cristiano Ronaldo is among the best, but very different, so asking who is best is not worthwhile.
"What matters about Rooney is that in this season he is in unbelievable form – and that is with the national team as well as with Manchester United. That is important, because whether it is in the Premier League, the Champions League or for his country, nobody can stop him at the moment. My feeling when I see him is that he is unstoppable. He has everything that a striker needs."
Carlos Queiroz Portugal
"Rooney is doing very well, but Ronaldo is the best player in the world and I hope that he will come through the World Cup having scored lots of goals and still the best player in the world. If he does that, then he can help Portugal to big success in South Africa.
"Rooney is a great player, though. I worked with him for many years at United. He is a fantastic player and professional who is getting better all the time, but Cristiano is the best in the world."
Carlos Alberto Parreira South Africa
"The game against Milan and what he did on the pitch was amazing, not only his goals but he is in the best form of his life. He has experience. He is very strong and mature. He is doing so well. He made the difference against Milan."
Rabah Saadane Algeria (play England in World Cup Group C, 18 June)
"When I look at Rooney now, I see a player who is growing day after day, getting better all the time. Now he is at the summit. It is not just the goals he is scoring and the talent he has but he is also at the top of his maturity as a player – and that is what defines a great player.
"For me he is one of the top two in the world. And if he is not the best yet, then he can become that man and very soon. What stands out for me is how many different things he can do, that he is equally at home playing as a midfielder or an attacker who will really hurt you.
"I hope for him that he can continue to play at this level all the way through to the World Cup – even though that will not be good for Algeria! I still feel that having played at one World Cup, irrespective of how it ended, was a very good experience for him. I think the whole world is now waiting to see what he can do when England come to South Africa."
Pim Verbeek Australia
"Ronaldo and Rooney are different players of course, but if you look at the goals Rooney is scoring and the great touch he has, he is unbelievable at this moment. He can make the difference. If you want to win the biggest games at the World Cup, you need players in your team who are extra-special, because they make the difference – and Rooney is extra-special.
"If you look at the big teams – Italy, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, England, France, Brazil – there is very little between them. But Rooney can make that difference."
Raddy Antic Serbia
"Rooney is not just a great player but he has now developed himself into a very influential player as well. I look at him and see a complete player, a comprehensive player, someone who works so hard but then scores the goals that matter as well.
"He does everything he has to do on the pitch. He will play as the lead striker, drop into the middle to pick up the ball but he will also go out wide to stop the opposition full-back coming forward – sacrificing himself for the team. He will do that, do whatever his team needs. That is the mark of a great player.
"I look at him now and believe he has got over the problems he might have had with his temperament. That is what has helped him become a great player. Another thing is the consistency he shows. He can go out on the pitch and achieve great things in a match. But he doesn't just do it in one match and then you don't see him for two or three. He does it game after game."
Matjas Kek Slovenia (play England in Group C, 23 June)
"He is now in the situation that he can think of himself of being at the same level as Lionel Messi and Ronaldo, in the top three in the world. He does everything on the pitch so well, so cleverly, and when he plays for England he brings in everything he has learned at Manchester United.
"Rooney makes so many good things for his team and you can see every month he is still growing as a player. He is somebody who makes his team win and that is the best thing you can say about a player – that he makes his team into winners.
"Rooney is now very, very dangerous. Not in a negative sense but a positive one. For any opponent, he is now more dangerous than he has ever been before, certainly more than he was in 2006 or even 2004, when we all remember how well he played for England in Portugal."
Raymond Domenech France
"England? Why would I talk about England? They are not in our group."Reuse content