West Ham United winger Stewart Downing has claimed that England would have won the 2006 FIFA World Cup had Wayne Rooney not been sent off in the quarter-finals against Portugal in an interview with the Daily Mail.
What happend on the day of the quarter-final
Downing was warming up ready to come on in Gelsenkirchen during the quarter-final against Portugal but Rooney’s stomp in Carvalho’s groin and subsequent sending off changed the manager‘s plans.
‘I was desperate to be on the same pitch as players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo,’ he says. ‘That would have been the pinnacle for me.’
Downing expressed his anger at Rooney’s red card as instead of him, Peter Crouch came on to play as a lone striker.
“I was cursing a little bit,’ the winger said. “Had it not been for the Rooney sending-off I think we could have won that game and, if we had, I think we could have gone on to win the tournament. England had a strong team that year.”
On Rooney’s red card last week against West Ham
“It looked worse than it probably was,” he said on the Manchester United captain’s foul on him.
“I could see him coming out of the corner of my eye. I thought he might try to trip me because we were on the counter-attack. And while it was a sending-off, he hardly caught me. He’s got that in his game now and again, though; that little bit of fire. And he nearly cost them the game because after that we dominated. That was the most disappointing thing — the fact that we didn’t take advantage.”
On Roy Hodgson’s treatment of him
“I’m probably most disappointed with the way it seems to have ended,” he said.”I went to the Euros two years ago on the back of what probably wasn’t a great season. But to go and then not be involved at all, I think, “Why did he take me?”. Then I play a lot better and I don’t get selected at all. That’s why I find it strange. Do you get picked on performances? Do you get picked based on who you play for? I’m not really sure what the thinking is. Maybe he just wants to go for younger players, which I guess is fair.
“But sometimes it’s difficult. You see the squad and there are a lot of players who are not playing for their clubs, but they’re getting picked.
“I know it can be difficult. At clubs like Manchester City and Manchester United you might not play as many games but some of them are not playing for a long, long time. And it’s not only me. There are a few players who are being ignored.”
On his time at Liverpool
‘He (Rodgers) was the one manager I had problems with,’ he said. ‘I found it very difficult and the way it was handled - to come out in the papers and basically slag off your player by saying you don’t try - that was poor really.
‘If it’s a one-one-one conversation and he wants to grill me, I can take that. But when it’s open like that; I don’t understand why some managers do it. You can lose the player completely. Did he do it as a gee-up? Maybe, but I didn’t appreciate it. I got my head down, worked hard and got back in the team. I’ve always worked hard, probably because of the way I’ve been brought up. My dad would always remind me that football’s a short career and that you need to make the best of it.
‘That’s why I found what happened at Liverpool difficult. That kind of thing can tarnish a player’s reputation. If fans read that you don’t try, it gives the wrong impression. I was finding it hard after the first season I’d had at Liverpool. When that came out, to say I was disappointed would be an understatement.’