Fergie's iron grip on Rooney: Striker speaks in court over agent's case

13 February 2010 01:04
Wayne Rooney has not always covered himself in glory when asked to make himself understood away from a football field. His first press conference as an Everton player seven years ago was a painful, monosyllabic affair. When he received an award from the BBC in 2002 he chewed gum and forgot to do his top button up.

With increasing levels of excellence on the pitch, however, has come some confidence off it. Yesterday in Court 44 of the Manchester Justice Centre, Rooney passed his greatest test to date.

Suits you, sir: Wayne Rooney after giving evidence

Called as a witness in a compensation case brought against him and his agent Paul Stretford by the sports agency Proactive, Rooney would not have anticipated the occasion with any great relish. One feels he would have swapped it for a double training session any day.

All court witnesses look nervous and Rooney was no exception. Hekept his eyes firmly to the floor as he walked into court just after11.15am. He approached the witness box in pretty much the same way whenhe took the stand half an hour or so later.

But Rooney knows his own mind these days. At 24, he has theconfidence to stare down his opponents, whether they are dressed in afootball shirt or a sharp lawyer's suit.

As such, he was never going to be embarrassed by the questions put to him by Ian Mill, a lawyer acting for Proactive.

In short, Rooney and Stretford are fighting a £4.3m compensationclaim by Proactive. The company claim they are owed the money as aresult of deals arranged for Rooney by Stretford prior to hisacrimonious departure from the firm in October 2008.

When Stretford left he took Rooney - and his contracts withcompanies such as Coca-Cola, Nike, EA Sports and Tiger beer -with him.It didn't take Rooney long to make his loyalty clear yesterday.

'I wanted Mr Stretford to look after me,' he said with some clarity.'There's a lot of stuff that needs to be done. It would be more or lessimpossible for me and my wife to do that.'

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Those hoping for an insight into Rooney's luxurious lifestyle weredisappointed. The blue suit and white shirt he wore were certainly notfrom Marks and Spencer, while two female journalists were moved tocomment on his aftershave.

'Smells expensive,' smiled one. There were, though, no details ofhis finances. The numbers attached to his commercial deals with hisfour sponsors - of which Stretford takes 20 per cent - were discussedin a private session on Thursday.

Yesterday, Rooney showed Judge Brendan Hegarty a piece of paper whenasked for details of his playing salary at Old Trafford. You couldalmost feel the noughts tumbling off the edge.

In control: United boss Sir Alex Ferguson

Those seeking tittle-tattle were also disappointed. Rooneystraight-batted in a manner that would have impressed Geoff Boycott,only providing an insight into his world when asked to explain how hechose his sponsors.

'I am only allowed to have five,' he explained. 'That is based onwhat the manager tells me. At the moment I have four. I am doing themaximum. My wife has just had a baby. I need time to spend with them.'

News that United manager Sir Alex Ferguson still has enough controlat Old Trafford to instruct his stars on the number of outside sponsorsthey can have will encourage those who feel modern players have toomuch power.

Certainly it seems Ferguson has lost none of his famed omnipotence.Speaking earlier in the day, Stretford himself revealed: 'I have hadmany meetings with Sir Alex Ferguson. He will not allow Wayne to haveany more sponsorships than he has at the moment. The final say is themanager's. Sir Alex is known for his attention to detail. It's not justabout training etc. He wants to know where Wayne is and what he isdoing.

'He believes that the first thought of any player should be hisfootball. I think he has had experience in the past of players'commericial obligations getting in the way.'

Rooney's evidence lasted less than 30 minutes. Next up was hismother and he stuck around to offer support. During the lunchtimerecess, the court's lifts hummed up and down as ushers and clerks cameseeking a look at their famous visitor. They were disappointed,though. He spent the time drinking tea. From a plastic cup.

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Source: Daily_Mail

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