White Pele; Rooney compared to Brazil legend.
MANCHESTER United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has echoed the club's fans by labelling Wayne Rooney the white Pele.
It has been sung by the Stretford End for a few years now, in recognition of the 25-year-old's status as a player of special talent.
And, in responding to an observation from Benfica coach Jorge Jesus that Rooney is "more Brazilian or Argentinian" than English in the way he plays the game ahead of tonight's Champions League encounter with United at the Stadium of Light, Ferguson made his own comparison.
"Look at Pele," said Ferguson. "He was a very aggressive attacker as well who could look after himself. So can Rooney. There are similarities that way in strength, speed and determination.
"But he is white, completely white." In fact, Ferguson thinks of Rooney as the very best of British, boasting the same desire, work ethic and talent as United legends of old.
"Wayne is a typical British player. But there have been British players who have great qualities that made them great players," he added. "(Paul) Gascoigne, George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law.
"The similarities are that the boy has great courage. He wants to play all the time. He has incredible stamina. These are added extras to the talent he has."
That talent has been on show to great effect so far this season, as Rooney has scored eight times in four Premier League games, leaving him just three adrift of his tally from last year.
As Rooney has proved in the past, paying attention to someone and actually stopping them are two entirely different things.
On present form, it is just a matter of time before the former Everton star flies past his personal record haul of 34, achieved before being sidelined by an ankle injury sustained against Bayern Munich in March 2010 that reduced his powers for almost 12 months.
Indeed, Ferguson feels it should be a twin target.
For, as Javier Hernandez marked his first start of the season with a double in the five-goal destruction of Bolton on Saturday, Ferguson sees no reason for the pair to stop scoring.
Brazil "I am sure his best ever goals season is a target for him," said Ferguson.
"He doesn't come out at the start of a season and think that way but it happened two years ago when the target was to go over 30 and he reached it very quickly.
"If he gets to that target again I will be absolutely delighted because with Javier's ability to score we could have two goalscorers well above 25."
Ferguson is still mulling over his options for United's first Champions League game since they were overwhelmed by Barcelona in last season's final.
Darren Fletcher, Ryan Giggs, Park Ji-sung and last season's joint Golden Boot winner Dimitar Berbatov have yet to start a game this term.
Having left Rio Ferdinand at home as a precaution and with Nemanja Vidic yet to start training after suffering a calf injury in the opening weekend win at West Brom, Ferguson needs to pay careful attention to his line-up ahead of such a packed fixture list.
"The season starts when the Champions League comes around because then you are into games all the time," he said.
legend Pele "We have the game tomorrow, Chelsea on Sunday, Leeds United next Tuesday, Stoke away the following Saturday, so obviously the squad will be used. Rio has stayed behind as a precaution and Vidic has not started training yet, so that will be at least two weeks.
"I have not decided about tomorrow yet but it wouldn't worry me to play the team that has been doing well."
Although he has been omitted from the roll-call of young stars who have electrified the season so far, Anderson has responded to extra responsibility in midfield with a series of effective displays.
At 23, the Brazilian is hardly a veteran. "It has been a great season for me so far," he added. "Hopefully I can follow in Paul Scholes' footsteps."
Brazil legend Pele Wayne Rooney (centre), in training with Manchester United yesterday, has been described as a white Pele by boss Sir Alex Ferguson