Rooney in tune with Japan
Wayne Rooney wants to hear Manchester United's fans sing 'champions of the world'.
By Elliot Ball
Last Updated: 19/12/08 11:25pm
Wayne Rooney wants to hear Manchester United's fans sing 'champions of the world' if The Red Devils can win the Club World Cup.
The striker is hoping his side's exploits in Japan can lead a change of the lyrics of 'champions of England, champions of Europe' song which bellowed out around grounds across the globe.
They would be able to do just that if The Red Devils were to overcome Ecuador's LDU Quito in Sunday's Club World Cup final.
And while some in England still doubt the validity of the competition, Rooney is convinced it is an honour worth collecting.
"You don't get many chances to win this tournament so we want to take it," Rooney said.
"I could hear our fans singing 'champions of England, champions of Europe'. It would sound even better for them to add 'champions of the world' to the song, so we want to win it for them as much as ourselves."
Rooney freely admits this competition has never been on his list of priorities before arriving in Japan, but the England international has been inspired by the enthusiasm of supporters attending games.
Nearly 70,000 were present last night to see the Old Trafford outfit defeat Gamba Osaka, with a similar number due to watch Sunday's decider.
"Winning the world championship has never really been in my mind," Rooney added.
"When I joined a club like United the targets were the obvious ones like the Premier League and the Champions League.
"But the chance to play in this competition has really excited me. I am really happy to be playing in it."
One man who does not require an explanation about the prestige which goes with being world champions is Edwin van der Sar.
Thirteen years ago, the veteran Dutchman was part of the Ajax side which defeated Gremio in a penalty shoot-out in Tokyo to collect the old Intercontinental Cup.
And Van der Sar still remembers the reception Ajax received on their return to Amsterdam.
"It was a big thing," said the 38-year-old, who has just agreed a new one-year deal with United.
"We didn't lose a game with Ajax for 18 months, so we were really in the flow. There was a big celebration in Amsterdam, with about 100,000 people welcoming us back.
"It is not the same as winning the Champions League but I never became a world champion with the national team and we are playing different teams in a different country so I am up for it."
Just like the Champions League, which Van der Sar won last May - 13 years after his previous triumph with Ajax - the Club World Cup offers him a chance to revisit past glories.
"You could say it has taken too long to achieve all this again but it is never too late to enjoy them," he said.
"Let's hope I am repeating everything again on Sunday."
Van der Sar's team-mates want that too, putting worries over how the 12-hour return trip and readjustment to GMT will still be affecting them by the time they tackle Stoke on Boxing Day.
Instead of dwelling on a potential negative, Rooney is more concerned about the boost it would give United over their domestic rivals to return as number one in the world.
"It would send out a powerful message if we were to win it," he claimed.
"We are in quite a strong position in the league and if we can go back as champions of the world it would be a big boost for us and a platform for the second half of the season."
Ferguson has confirmed his intention to make changes to his starting line-up, with Rooney among those set to come in.
United must await a fitness update on Dimitar Berbatov before learning whether the Bulgarian will be involved with Ferguson admitting, defensively at least, his team must do better.
"We were a bit slow covering our defensive positions, which is possibly because we are still adjusting to the time difference," Ferguson said.
"Hopefully by Sunday we will be in better physical shape and our performance will be better. It will have to be because in my experience it is always difficult playing South American teams."