By Tom Davies
Wayne Rooney has been described as a “hooligan” and “freckled demon” by Marca as the Spanish sports newspaper seeks to raise the temperature ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League match between Real Madrid and Manchester United.
Rooney is depicted on the front page of the Madrid-based daily under the banner headline “El Coco” (meaning “bogey man), while inside, a characteristically forthright piece warns of “a barrel packed with gunpowder” heading for the Bernabéu and recalls the United striker’s past confrontations with Real players.
“Wayne Rooney is a football player and hooligan all rolled into one,” writes Marca’s Hugo Cerezo. “To look at him, you’d think he was one of the 4,000 British fans on the terraces … yelling and drinking beer and jumping the queue to get in through Gate D.
“But Rooney will run out on to the turf at the Bernabéu and face players who have bones to pick with him. Pepe, [Ricardo] Carvalho, [Iker] Casillas and Cristiano Ronaldo may well relive their encounters with the English bad boy.”
Marca also rakes over Rooney’s past indiscretions at the World Cup in 2006, when he was sent off for treading on Portugal’s Carvalho and Ronaldo encouraged the referee to dismiss him, and a fracas with Casillas in England’s friendly against Spain more than eight years ago. It also makes reference to Rooney tweeting that Pepe was “an idiot” after the Real defender trod on Lionel Messi’s hand during a Copa del Rey match against Barcelona last season.
Rooney’s former team-mate Gary Neville responded on Twitter that Marca’s verdict was “harsh”.