Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Rooney hopes to ticket as Red

Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney has got his tickets sorted for the FA Cup final — he just hopes he will not to be joining his family in the Wembley stands.

Born and brought up an Everton fan, Rooney switched allegiances in 2004 when he quit Goodison Park for Manchester United. As supporters, the Rooney clan’s allegiance is not so easily transferred, meaning there are bound to be some mixed emotions at Sunday’s eagerly-awaited FA Cup semi-final.

Either way, there will be someone for the Rooneys to cheer against Arsenal or Chelsea on May 30. The England forward hopes it is him.

"The only good thing is I can book some seats for the final no matter who gets there," he said.

"I just hope I don’t have to sit on one of them."

Given the abuse he now routinely gets from the Goodison Park faithful, Rooney could be forgiven if he attended the final in camouflage if Everton did make it. As a childhood supporter, it must feel strange to have so much venom directed in his direction from stands where he used to sit and cheer.

But Rooney does not take it personally. He would do exactly the same thing.

"I have no problem with the fans’ reaction," he said. "I understand they were upset when I left and with the way it happened.

"When I was a fan, I felt exactly the same when players left.

"The stick I get when I am playing against them is just a bit of banter. I can still go out in Liverpool and get no hassle."

It has been well documented that Rooney was at Wembley in 1995 when Paul Rideout scored the goal that condemned United to defeat, just six days after relinquishing the Premier League title to Blackburn.

At the time it was the greatest day in the 23-year-old’s life, skipper Dave Watson marking the occasion by sleeping with the trophy Rooney is now so desperate to win.

"Everton are a much better team now than they were in 1995," said Rooney.

"They work really hard and try not to give you any space on the ball. It is going to be a really difficult game."

Indeed, while a row between Rooney and former boss David Moyes ended up in court after allegations made against the Everton manager in the player’s autobiography, there is still respect for the work being done on Merseyside.

"Everton have been excellent," said Rooney, "especially considering the start they had.

"The manager has done a fantastic job to get them into the position they are in."

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