Michael Carrick has hailed Wayne Rooney’s “sensational achievement” in becoming Manchester United’s all-time highest goal scorer and has no doubt he can be held in the same high esteem as Sir Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and George Best.
Rooney moved clear of Charlton at the top of the club’s scoring list when he notched his 250th goal for the club with a superb stoppage-time free kick in Saturday’s 1-1 Premier League draw at Stoke City.
That has prompted plenty of praise for the 31-year-old, who also surpassed Charlton as England’s record goal scorer in 2015.
And Red Devils midfielder Carrick has paid his own tribute to a teammate he feels has regularly hushed the critics who have followed him over the years.
“It is a sensational achievement,” Carrick told told BBC Radio Five Live. “To be the record goal scorer for United, and for England, is something you cannot take lightly, and he fully deserves it.
“To play at the level he has done for so long, you can’t underestimate how tough it is to play so many games and have that scrutiny and spotlight on you constantly.
“He has dealt with that and answered back and shut people up over the years when they have questioned him, and he is still going strong today. To be so successful is not easy to do.”
When asked about Rooney in comparison to the likes of Charlton, Law and Best, Carrick added: “They are all legends and icons in their own right, not just for United but for football in general, and Wayne is right up there with the very best of them.
“I wouldn’t like to say who is the better one, because they have all achieved major things. But for Wayne to get the record for club and country of goal scoring, and so many caps for England and playing so many times for United, it is an incredible achievement and something he should be proud of.”
Rooney’s stunning goal came right at the death of what had been a frustrating match for United at the bet365 Stadium, with the visitors falling behind in the 19th minute to a Juan Mata own goal.
United remain sixth following that result, 11 points behind Chelsea. When asked if the title race was still alive for United, Carrick said: “It is alive. We are a way off now, but we can never give up.
“We are always fighting right to the very end — that’s the only way we know. Anything can happen. There can be twists and turns. It is up to us to just focus on ourselves.”
United remain in the EFL Cup and FA Cup, and Carrick added: “We have different competitions to play for, so we have plenty to play for and hopefully we can still win things this year.”