Wayne Rooney ‘told David Beckham to f*** off’ during furious dressing room bust-up

Remember the time when two of England’s greatest ever players nearly came to blows?

If not, you’ll surely recall when the Three Lions were humiliatingly humbled by Northern Ireland back in 2005.

David Healy’s stunning strike was enough separate the sides and put a dent in England’s World Cup qualification hopes, but even more damage was to be caused in the dressing room that night.

Following a first half full of frustration, a teenage Wayne Rooney received a caution and could so easily have been sent off for raising his arms when clashing with Northern Ireland’s Keith Gillespie.

England captain David Beckham duly intervened, attempting to calm down the flustered forward, but a hot-headed Rooney – whose booking meant he would be suspended for a crucial penultimate qualifier against Austria – was out of control and ordered Beckham to “f*** off”.

England captain David Beckham (R) attempted to calm an out of control Wayne Rooney after his booking against Northern Ireland

Tempers then boiled over at half time after a rambling Rooney continued to take aim at his captain as they headed for the dressing room.

“When the England players were going up the tunnel at half-time, Rooney said something about Beckham being a “flash b*****d” behind his back, which Beckham heard,” an England source told The Guardian at the time.

“It spilled over into the dressing-room. When they got back in there, Beckham went for him [Rooney] and they squared up.

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Sven Goran Eriksson publicly criticised Rooney and labelled his actions "stupid"
Sven Goran Eriksson publicly criticised Rooney and labelled his actions “stupid”

“Two or three of the lads, including Rio Ferdinand, stepped in to separate them. No blows were thrown, but they did square up to each other. This happened in front of the whole team, but before Sven-Goran Eriksson had arrived for the half-time discussion.

“Steve McClaren [Eriksson’s assistant] got involved but Rooney told him to f*** off as well. He only calmed down when Sven arrived.”

The high-profile incident was the latest show of tension in the England camp at the time with Beckham’s influence and closeness to manager Eriksson reportedly creating divisions throughout the squad.

Matters weren’t helped by the softly-spoken Swede in the aftermath of the clash either, with Eriksson bizarrely branding Rooney “stupid” as he publicly criticised his up-and-coming wonderkid.

“He is always playing to the edge and he could have been sent off,” Eriksson added.

Beckham, however, took a far more considered approach at the time, playing down the incident and defending the passion of the player who would later go on to establish himself as England’s all-time record goalscorer.

“Wayne’s got that in him,” he said, referring to the Gillespie incident.

Rooney once again lost his cool at the tournament as he was sent off against Portugal and England crashed out
Rooney once again lost his cool at the tournament as he was sent off against Portugal and England crashed out

“That makes him the player he is, because he’s got that fiery side. Most greats have got that and it’s just a case of keeping it below a certain level and he’s at a club with a manager who can keep that under control. Sometimes it goes over the edge.”

Despite the debacle that night, and with no Rooney against Austria, the Three Lions did make it all the way to Germany for the 2006 World Cup as uncertainty over Eriksson rumbled on.

However, his comments over Rooney’s “stupidity” and tendency to find himself on the cusp of being sent off proved eerily prescient as the 19-year-old once again lost his cool to costly effect on the biggest stage of all.

Rooney. Ronaldo. Wink. You know the rest.


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