Wayne Rooney is Manchester United and England’s record goalscorer, with 253 and 53 strikes for club and country respectively.
But the 34-year-old, who is in the twilight of his career with Championship side Derby, still feels he should have found the back of the net more often in his heyday, despite claiming not to be “a natural finisher”.
Rooney, a teenage sensation at Everton, joined United in 2004, making 559 appearances in 13 years with the Red Devils.
He picked up multiple trophies, including Premier League titles and the Champions League, and went on to surpass Bobby Charlton as the club’s all-time leading scorer, just as he did for England.
However, Rooney yesterday insisted he could have reached greater heights in the game, had he been more single-minded in his pursuit of perfection.
“I’m going to be honest – and this might surprise you, but I’m not a natural goalscorer,” he told The Times of London. “I was never a Gary Lineker or a Ruud van Nistelrooy; I never looked at myself that way.
“I hold the goal records for Manchester United and England and am very proud about that – yet there have been better No. 9s than me.
“How did I become a record-breaker if I wasn’t a natural scorer? Time.
“I played for United for 13 years, England for 15 years (he won 120 caps). I had time to break those records – and looking back, I should have scored more.”
While his United record looks safe for the near future – there is no active player on the top-10 list for the most number of goals scored for the club – his Three Lions mark is far more attainable.
England captain Harry Kane is on 32 strikes, and with the Tottenham striker still only 26, time is on his side to overtake Rooney.
His former teammate has also backed him to do so, but urged him “to stay high as that No. 9” after noticing his tendency to sometimes drop deeper during games.
“I don’t think it will take long for Harry Kane to claim my England record and it would be a proud moment for me,” he added. “I’ve never been a selfish player and it would be great for England for Harry to get there.
“Bobby Charlton had to wait 50 years (to see his mark broken) – I hope it’s not so long for me. The United record might last longer simply because players don’t stay at clubs as long as they used to.
“Mind you, if (Lionel) Messi or (Cristiano) Ronaldo came to Old Trafford for a swansong, they’d probably break it in three or four years.”