Ferguson gets sentimental over Rooney's anniversary

Manager hails striker five years after stunning debut for United in Europe
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The Independent Football

Sir Alex Ferguson does not normally come across as the sentimental type but the Manchester United manager was getting all gooey about an anniversary yesterday.

Before tonight's Champions League tie against Wolfsburg at Old Trafford Ferguson drooled over Wayne Rooney's stunning debut for the club which was exactly five years ago. Rooney scored a magnificent hat-trick against Turkish side Fenerbahce in 2004, sending Old Trafford into raptures and announcing himself on the world stage at the age of 18.

"It was a marvellous start, to score a hat-trick on your debut and he wasn't really fit," Ferguson said. "He hadn't played for 10 weeks which was a remarkable feat. His progress has never disappointed us. When we signed him as a young kid we thought that he would become a top player and he's going in that direction without question."

Ferguson outlined Rooney's desire to win as his key attributes before the visit of the Bundesliga champions, who came from nowhere to beat the likes of Bayern Munich, Hamburg and Stuttgart to the German title. "He's blessed with certain ingredients that only great footballers have," Ferguson said. "It's the determination and hunger to win every match."

United will be looking to build on their win in Besiktas in the first group match against Wolfsburg who are likely to have the former Newcastle striker Obafemi Martins on the bench.

Chelsea, who beat Porto in their first match, meet APOEL Nicosia in Cyprus looking to improve on their performance at the weekend when they lost their first match under Carlo Ancelotti, 3-1 to Wigan Athletic in the League.

Rangers, who have been struggling on the domestic front, host Spain's Seville looking to build on their sound start to the competition when they returned from Stuttgart with a point.