World of Sport

Gym-shy Rooney ‘could have been as good as Ronaldo’ if he’d worked out more

World of Sport

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Rooney and Ronaldo

A former Manchester United coach claims Wayne Rooney could have been as good as Cristiano Ronaldo, but has seen his career held back by a hatred of working out.

Mick Clegg, who worked as fitness coach at Old Trafford, has revealed the vast but entirely unsurprising contrast between the attitudes of 27-year-old Rooney and 28-year-old Ronaldo when it came to hitting the gym.

“Wayne didn’t see the importance of the gym, really,” Clegg told The Sun. “He’d say: ‘I’m here to play football’. I always wish I could have pushed Wayne that bit further."

Rooney and Ronaldo played together at United for five seasons between 2004 and 2009, and Clegg worked with both during his time at Old Trafford.

“Wayne was always a big lad and was afraid of bulking up if he spent too much time in the gym," Clegg added.

“That’s what set Cristiano Ronaldo apart. He would do whatever training I prescribed and more.

“He lived and breathed football 24/7 and his dedication was phenomenal.”

Yet Clegg believes that Rooney could still hit the heights now scaled by his former team-mate.

"Wayne could still be as good as Cristiano if he emulated his attitude to the gym," he added. "He is an amazing athlete when he puts his mind to it.”

Such words will only help fuel yet more transfer speculation around Rooney. He remains a Manchester United player for now, but is widely expected to find new employers for the upcoming season.

Those coaches tempted but not convinced by a star who last looked past his sell-by date in recent seasons. Clubs such as Barcelona and Bayern Munich would no doubt love the idea of putting Rooney through Boot Camp at the hands of their best physios and fitness gurus, and turning him back into a world beater.

Going through the pain could make plenty of sense for Rooney: he earns less than half what the Portuguese star does. Their regular salaries aren't far off each other, but Ronaldo's huge number of image deals mean he pockets an estimated £29 million a year compared to Rooney’s £14m.

But would Rooney really be able to stick to the strict off the pitch lifestyle required? After all, Ronaldo lives by a strict diet of fish and fruit while Rooney spent last week enjoying copious amounts of cider and junk food at the Glastonbury festival.

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