Lampard defends Rooney

Rooney is currently training in the United States in a bid to

regain top condition after a tumultuous few weeks with Manchester

United which ended with him signing a new contract after initially

signalling his intention to leave because he felt the club lacked

ambition. His contract U-turn, alongside headlines regarding his

private life, has led to a great deal of criticism of the player

but Chelsea midfielder Lampard believes it is wholly unjustified

and insists the Rooney he knows is nothing like the public

preconceptions that have been built up around him. Lampard told BBC

Radio Five Live: “People who call him thick, it’s just a lazy thing

to say by looking at him and saying ‘he’s a footballer, he looks

quite tough because he’s come from that background’ and all that

kind of stuff and the way he plays, but he is sharp. “I think the

people who are calling him thick have got a certain element of

thickness about them, because they haven’t even invested the time

to speak to him. “He doesn’t speak to the press that much for them

to make that judgement of him. “He’s a confident boy, and he has a

sensitive side to him. During the World Cup we’d sit in a room

together and watch some of the other games and stuff like that. “If

you read the headlines of the last few weeks you can get an

impression of someone but he’s a very sensitive lad, you can have a

good conversation with him about anything you want. He’s a very

cute, worldly lad for how young he is. He has no problem relating

to older players, he treats everyone the same. “Some people like to

align themselves to the bigger names in the squad, to speak to

certain players or stick to their own little group. Wayne talks to

David Beckham the same as he would to a new player who’s just come

into the squad from Stoke or Bolton, and that’s the beauty of him I

think as a person. “He’s got a great sense of humour. I love being

around people who will make me laugh, and he makes you laugh

constantly. When you’re sat at a dinner table with 20 people he can

dominate the conversation just through wit and the confidence in

the way he speaks.” Lampard recalled Rooney made an instant

impression on him when he was first called up by England. “He looks

like he has this bulldog way about him, a little powerhouse, and

then the first day he trained you could see he had this touch and

awareness that was…like a genius touch,” he said. “I’d only seen

three players in my career like that – Paolo Di Canio, Gianfranco

Zola and Paul Gascoigne when I was a kid training with England –

that had this genius kind of thing about them, and Wayne had that

instantly as a 17-year-old.”