Lionel Messi: Wayne Rooney’s Quality, Strength, Work Rate Make Him ‘Special’

Lionel Messi’s comments on Wayne Rooney should end the debate over his status in the global game.

Messi on Thursday hailed Rooney as a “once-in-a-generation” player and a “winner” in a glowing tribute to the Manchester United and England star. Rooney scored his 50th career goal for England’s national team on Tuesday, breaking Sir Bobby Charlton’s 45-year old record for most goals for the Three Lions. Messi joined the ongoing chorus of appreciation for Rooney’s feat.

Rooney, 29, is closing in on another one of Charlton’s hallowed marks. He needs 17 goals to break Charlton’s record for most goals in Manchester United’s colors.

Some recently have questioned whether Rooney truly is a world-class player or the best England has ever produced. Critics cite Rooney’s lack of international titles and low goal-scoring totals in 2015 as reasons to believe he’s “overrated.”

Soccer’s the ultimate team sport, and strong groups win the biggest tournaments. Messi can attest to the difficulty of winning international honors, as Argentina has failed to win a major tournament despite having the services of one of the all-time greats.

The Rooney debate will rage into eternity, but there’s no denying he possesses a rare mix of skill and will. It doesn’t take Messi to see that, but his input always helps.

Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@judefido

TMZ logo

© 2019 NESN

NESN Shows

Partner of USATODAY Sports Digital Properties