Van Persie: Rooney not to blame for England exit

The Netherlands international says his Manchester United team-mate "gave his all" for the Three Lions and says he is one of the reasons he left Arsenal for Old Trafford
By Greg Stobart in Rio de Janeiro

Robin van Persie has insisted Manchester United team-mate Wayne Rooney is not to blame for England’s early exit from the World Cup.

Keep up with all the latest Three Lions news and get involved in the debate on Twitter with our new England Social Hub
Costa Rica’s victory over Italy on Friday confirmed England’s elimination from Group D after Roy Hodgson’s men lost their opening two matches in Brazil.

Rooney scored his first ever World Cup goal in the 2-1 defeat to Uruguay on Wednesday but the forward has been heavily criticised for his performances.

“Wayne is not to blame, he gave his all for his country. It’s not fair to criticise him so much,” said Van Persie.

“He was under a lot of pressure and that is his life since he made his debut. I think he played well. You can’t blame him for scoring one goal, working his socks off and missing three chances by inches.

“As I’ve said many times, Wayne was partly the reason I came to Manchester United. I never regretted saying that because by training and playing with him he’s shown me that he’s a world class player. He’s a great player and a great goalscorer.”

Van Persie has played in the Premier League for 10 years after joining Arsenal from Feyenoord in 2004 – and he believes the Football Association must invest in youth coaching and facilities to produce a better national team.

“It’s very important to invest in youth, in good trainers and the facilities for youngsters to play outside,” he added.

“The more hours you spend playing football, combined with good trainers, that is what makes you a better player.

“What is important is to invest in the youth and try to develop them.”