Australian team Perth Glory squeezed more mirth out of a joke Wayne Rooney would join the A-League side from Manchester United when a defender appeared at the club's news conference today wearing a Rooney mask.
"I just want to announce our new signing here. We just got him for 45 trillion," Perth coach Ian Ferguson joked as several Glory players chimed in with chants of "Rooney, Rooney", Australian news agency AAP reported.
The yarn that the England striker might join the small Australian club was started by Perth's former Liverpool frontman Robbie Fowler on Thursday when he quipped of Rooney: "He's very, very interested. I told him what a lovely place it is.
"I told him everything about the city. So he's umming and ahhing at the minute, but it's looking good mate."
The story made headlines around the world in newspapers and on websites desperate for any scrap of news on the Rooney saga.
Rooney confirmed this week that he wants to leave Old Trafford, with the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester City all touted as possible destinations.
The Perth coach said he had been surprised at how seriously Fowler's comments were taken.
"Yeah I'm gobsmacked it's run as far as it has," he said. "But as you say, (all) publicity is good publicity. If we could get him we'd love to have him. But he's way out of our reach."
Manchester United on Thursday called for supporters to be patient after a series of meetings over the player's future.
Manager Alex Ferguson met with chief executive David Gill and Rooney's representatives.
"...a number of meetings have taken place today, including with the player's representative. The outcome of those meetings will become clear in the near future," United said in a statement on the club website (www.manutd.com).
"In the meantime, fans are asked to be patient."