Wayne Rooney has revealed his admiration for former strike partner Ruud van Nistelrooy.
The Dutch striker spent five years with Manchester United between 2001-2006 and, when Rooney joined the club in 2004, Van Nistelrooy had already established himself as one of the most clinical finishers in world football.
The England frontman was often paired with Van Nistelrooy during his early years at United and Rooney has acknowledged it was a dream come true for him to play alongside one of his boyhood idols.
“Ruud van Nistelrooy was great. I loved him. He was one of my biggest heroes when I was young," Rooney told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf .
"It was like a dream come true when I was on the same pitch as him.
“It was an honour to watch him from close and to learn from him. He was such a brilliant finisher.
"I never really got close with Ruud off the pitch, but that was mainly because of the age gap. I was just a kid and Ruud was in his late twenties. And he was so experienced.”
Van Nistelrooy was not the only lethal Dutch striker Rooney played with at United and, in 2012, the Red Devils signed Robin van Persie from Arsenal.
Together they guided the club to a 20th league title and the current D.C. United attacker has also spoken of his admiration for Van Persie.
“I loved playing with Van Persie," said Rooney. "He was a world-class player and it was an absolute privilege to play with him. But I have other great memories of Robin off the pitch.
“Our karaoke night at Christmas was fantastic. I remember doing a song with Robin’s wife, Bouchra. She had a terrific voice.
"I grew really close to Robin. On and off the pitch we got on really well. We spent a lot of good times together.”
Rooney is currently playing for MLS side D.C. United and is enjoying another excellent season for the club from the US capital.
In 18 appearances for D.C. this campaign, Rooney has bagged 10 goals and sensationally netted from inside his own half in the recent 1-0 win against Orlando City .