Gary Neville says the Man Utd squad rallied around Cristiano Ronaldo after he came under fierce criticism over his infamous ‘wink’ at Wayne Rooney during the 2006 World Cup.
Rooney was sent off an hour into England’s quarter-final against Portugal after stamping on Ricardo Carvalho with Ronaldo urging the referee to brandish a red card.
When the official gave Rooney his marching orders the cameras zoomed in on his Man Utd team-mate Ronaldo winking, leading to a huge backlash from England fans.
When asked if all the England players were waiting for Ronaldo at Man Utd training, Neville replied on Sky Sports: “No, first day back in pre-season I was called into the office with Wayne and Cristiano by the manager to sit down and he wanted to see if there were any problems or hangover.
“They actually were really good friends, they socialised together those two. Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand, Cristiano and Wayne were very close to each other and actually it felt like – because the whole of the country was against him – it felt like a bit of a David Beckham-type moment in our dressing room.
“Whereby there was this thing about England and Manchester United anyway with England fans having a go at United players while they were playing for England, so there was no love lost there anyway.
“I think when David Beckham came back from the World Cup in 1998 everyone rallied round him at United and it was the same with Cristiano in 2006, everyone seemed to sort of come together and it seemed to help him in some ways go and prove everybody wrong.
“I think he does like proving people wrong and it was from the very first day of pre-season. It was the first morning of pre-season we were called into his office and I was there and they shook hands so there was no problem whatsoever.
“And Wayne to be fair, Wayne is knowledgable enough to know that ultimately on a football pitch anything goes, we had that mentally ourselves at the football club at United. You try to do everything you can to win a game.
“If Cristiano was trying to win for his country then Wayne wouldn’t expect anything different and neither would I.”