• World Cup

Rooney was the reason I joined United - RVP

ESPN staff
June 23, 2014
Rooney managed a goal and an assist for England but it was not enough to prevent them crashing out © Getty Images

Robin van Persie has claimed Wayne Rooney was the reason he joined Manchester United in a defence of the England striker's World Cup showing.

Van Persie has been one of the standout players at the showpiece event in Brazil, scoring three times for the Netherlands including a contender for goal of the tournament with his header against Spain.

But his performances and the reaction to them have contrasted sharply to those of Rooney, who failed to live up to expectations at a major tournament once again.

"The elimination is not his fault alone," Van Persie, who signed for United from Arsenal in 2012, told German magazine Kicker. "He was under special pressure in Brazil. And the way he has been criticised is not that fair.

"He has given it his all for his country and he is a great player. Incidentally, Wayne Rooney was the reason I joined Manchester United."

Rooney was criticised by former England captain Alan Shearer for his performance on the left wing in the 2-1 defeat Italy, with Shearer accusing him of "letting down" left-back Leighton Baines through a lack of defensive cover.

Earlier this month former United team-mate Paul Scholes suggested Rooney might be "past his peak", while former England striker Gary Lineker said Rooney was a victim of his own versatility.

But Van Persie insisted Rooney and England were unlucky rather than unimpressive as they followed up defeat by Italy with a 2-1 loss to Uruguay.

"I was only able to watch parts of their match against Italy," Van Persie said. "But I saw the Uruguay match. To me, the English acted pretty well, they had some good moment, but they played without luck. Sometimes, it's a thin line between winning and losing."

England's fate was sealed when Costa Rica defeated Italy on Friday, sending Roy Hodgson's men crashing out of the tournament at the group stage for the first time since 1958.

The Netherlands take on Chile in Sao Paulo later today in a battle for top spot in Group B with both teams currently on two wins apiece, although the suspended Van Persie won't play. The Netherlands top the group due to a superior goal difference.

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