Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson said that Sir Alex Ferguson threatened to kill him after he decided to select Wayne Rooney in the 2006 World Cup squad.
Rooney who was just 20 when the competition was around the corner, sustained a broken metatarsal during a Premier League match against Chelsea. Ferguson did not want the striker to be in England’s squad for the World Cup but Eriksson selected him anyway.
The Swede said that the then-Manchester United manager was furious with Rooney’s selection and threatened to kill him. Speaking to the Times, Eriksson said: “With Alex, the amazing thing was it was seven o’clock in the morning or earlier. Always. When he was angry.And never “Hello Sven, how are you?” It was “whuurssshhhh” [straight into yelling]. I thought he should kill me.
“He said, “I will kill you. You are finished.” But I represented England and you have to stand up. What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong and when you say ‘Don’t pick Rooney because I’m going to kill you’ . . . I said, ‘F*** off, what’s going on with you?’ And he was screaming. Whenever he got like that . . . it has no meaning. That’s why I was, ‘Alex, I will pick Rooney. Now, have a nice holiday. Ciao, bye’.”
Rooney featured in all of England’s matches during the 2006 World Cup except their opener against Paraguay. He went goalless as the Three Lions were out of the tournament in the quarterfinals after losing to Portugal. The striker had a bitter ending to his competition as he was sent off in England’s last game due to a foul on Ricardo Carvalho.
Rooney wasn’t the only striker who had injury issues before the World Cup as it was a similar case with Michael Owen. The then-Newcastle player featured in England’s group games but sustained a knee injury in their final group match against Sweden and was subsequently ruled out of the tournament.
Had Rooney and Owen been totally fit during the World Cup, England could’ve even had a good chance of winning it.