London (AFP) – Wayne Rooney has apologised after “inappropriate” photos of him at a hotel party were released but the England captain has been defended by Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, who said all the game’s greats “drank like devils”.
Rooney was thrown into the spotlight after The Sun tabloid alleged the Manchester United forward drunkenly gatecrashed a wedding at England’s hotel in Watford, north of London, on Saturday.
Media reports said up to 10 other England players who separately went to a London nightclub have also been spoken to.
Rooney started England’s 3-0 World Cup qualifying win over Scotland on Friday but suffered a knee injury that ruled him out of Tuesday’s 2-2 friendly draw at home to Spain.
A statement issued on Rooney’s behalf, said: “Naturally Wayne is sorry that pictures taken with fans have been published today.
“Although it was a day off for the whole squad and staff, he fully recognises that the images are inappropriate for someone in his position.”
The statement said Rooney had spoken to Southgate and FA technical director Dan Ashworth “to unreservedly apologise”.
“He would like to further extend that apology to any young fans who have seen these pictures.”
An FA spokesperson said: “All England personnel have a responsibility to behave appropriately at all times. We will be reviewing our policy around free time whilst on international duty.”
Rooney’s representatives have indicated that he believes he has been an unfair victim of the incessant media glare around top footballers.
– Drank like devils –
A Rooney spokesman said: “As he has always been, Wayne was happy to sign (autographs), pose for photos and chat with guests.
“It is sad that one or two of them have now sought to turn Wayne’s friendly good nature to their advantage.”
And Liverpool boss Klopp also said the episode was not serious.
“I know we’re all on the sunny side of life, we earn a lot of money and do the job we love, but at the end maybe it comes as a surprise that we are also human beings too,” Klopp told a team press conference.
“These boys, this generation, is the most professional generation of footballers — not only in England, but England, too, that there has ever been.
“All the guys, all the legends we love and admire they drank like devils and smoked like crazy, but they were still good players. No one does it any more. I don’t know anyone now.”
England’s interim manager Gareth Southgate was adamant that Rooney had not been left out of the Spain game as a disciplinary measure.
“Wayne picked up an injury in the game (against Scotland) on Friday,” said Southgate. “He couldn’t train on Sunday and that’s it.”
Southgate, who is still waiting to hear whether he will get the England job full time, said he would review players’ free time.
“Over the last few years, the players have been allowed to go home during a period of time,” Southgate told reporters after England’s 2-2 friendly draw with Spain at Wembley.
“They trained Saturday morning and they trained again on Sunday afternoon, and I gave the players a period of time off (in between). I’m not aware of anything else.
“There were lots of changes we made to routines. Some things we thought we should keep the same and I’ll have to review (it) — or maybe I won’t have to review! Someone will have to review it.”
Rooney was recalled by Southgate for the win over Scotland, having been dropped for England’s goalless draw in Slovenia, after winning back his place in the United first team.
His status with both club and country appears uncertain as concerns grow over the 31-year-old’s waning powers.