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Wazza was 24 when Manchester United faced AC Milan in Champions League last 16 in 2010 - with the hairline of a 64-year-old but the skills of a generational talent.
Milan's team boasted Ronaldinho, Andrea Pirlo, Thiago Silva, Alessandro Nesta and David Beckham. But Rooney was unstoppable as he blitzed the Italian giants, scoring four goals across the two legs as Man United won 7-2.
Wayne Rooney in his prime was absolutely unstoppable for Manchester United. Here he is destroying prime AC Milan over two legs in the Champions League. What a player.#mufc pic.twitter.com/ijbzfa2vFh
- Luke (@UtdLuke3) October 10, 2020
What's amazing about his performance is that Rooney had the opportunity to score even more, as he pulled Milan apart by dropping deep, twisting his opponents in knots and creating chances for himself.
"He's been in devastating form and they just couldn't handle him in the second half," Sir Alex Ferguson said after the first leg at the San Siro, won 3-2 by United thanks to a pair of Rooney headers.
This guy isn't appreciated enough for what he has done for football and it really upset me :confused: https://t.co/tnkrgf8l5g
- nguMthokozisi (@mtho_said) October 16, 2020
"I thought he was marvellous. Particularly in the last two months we have seen development in his game and confidence has a lot to do with that.
"His basic ability is as good as any of those [elite] players, what he's got to do is improve his goalscoring - which he's now doing and if he continues that trend then he's got to be regarded alongside any player."
I remember these two games. Rooney was unplayable this season. Those headed goals were a regular thing if my mind serves correctly. Milan had an aging squad but we are never an easy feat in the Champions League https://t.co/ax3M1h4udY
- Chakam Namalah (@BH1_Gideon24) October 11, 2020
When he just suddenly became elite in the air for a season and then just stopped :sob::joy: https://t.co/99wQfm45Wu
- Danyal Hussain (@Danyal_Hussain2) October 15, 2020
More was to come in the second leg at Old Trafford, notable for Beckham's return. Fergie's side decimated Milan 4-0: Rooney with another header and a terrifically neat finish past Christian Abbiati.
"Milan humiliated," was the verdict in Italian newspaper La Repubblica. "A lesson from Rooney... 4-0 isn't a defeat, it's a thrashing."
"Just sensational," was Ferguson's review of Rooney post-match.
There's a reason Sir Alex Ferguson was the greatest.
He beat this AC Milan team 7-2 on aggregate with this Manchester United team. :flushed: pic.twitter.com/ILqjq07EJ0
- Football Factly (@FootballFactly) August 24, 2018
The 2009/10 season saw Rooney hit arguably his career-best form. He scored 34 goals, won the PFA Player of the Year award - but it was cruelly hampered by injury.
An ankle sprain when facing Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-final meant Rooney missed crucial games during the run-in and went into the 2010 World Cup a shadow of the player he'd been when he faced AC Milan.
Because the Rooney that tore apart European royalty - first at the San Siro, then at Old Trafford - was a special talent at the peak of his powers.
Image credit: PA Images
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