Darren Fletcher has admitted it was “quite possible” Real Madrid could have swooped for Wayne Rooney during the striker’s heyday at Manchester United.
Rooney scored a total of 253 goals in 559 appearances for United across 13 years with the club, winning five Premier League titles along the way.
Fletcher, who now plays for Stoke City, broke into the United team under Sir Alex Ferguson at a similar time to Rooney and says the youngsters got on well at the time.
“Wayne was fantastic. We were two of the youngest in the dressing room and we built up a good relationship very early,” Fletcher said on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football show.
“There were a lot of experienced winners in the dressing room and me and Wayne were close in age with similar backgrounds and we just got on and clicked.”
Rooney, now at MLS side DC United, went on to become United’s all-time record goalscorer, and Fletcher believes it was always clear his teammate would eventually be an iconic figure at the club.
“You could tell Wayne was going to go on and be a Manchester United great,” Fletcher added.
“The only worry was would a Real Madrid or someone like that come in for him? Because that was quite possible. But there was no doubt that he was going to go on and win everything, go on and be club captain and end up England and Manchester United’s leading goal scorer – what an achievement.
“I don’t think he gets the appreciation he deserves. Still, people don’t realise how good Wayne Rooney was, and always was, at Manchester United. And again, he was a team player. He sacrificed himself at times for the good of the team.”
Rooney at Man United
On top of the five Premier League trophies Rooney lifted with United, the 33-year-old also won an FA Cup, three League Cups, the Champions League and Europa League.
He was named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year on three occasions and won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year – and the FWA Footballer of the Year – in 2009/10.
Rooney’s best goalscoring campaigns for United came in 2009/10 and 2011/12 when he scored 34 goals in each season.
The former England captain is set to make a final appearance for the Three Lions against the USA in a friendly next week.