Wayne Rooney has saluted Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for putting “smiles back on the players’ faces” at Manchester United and admitted to being pleasantly surprised by the standard of Major League Soccer.
A modern-day icon, who is the all-time leading goalscorer for both the Red Devils and England, departed Old Trafford in the summer of 2017.
He left with many happy memories, but had seen United hit the skids in the wake of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.
Jose Mourinho briefly lifted the mood as he landed three trophies in his debut campaign, but was unceremoniously dumped from his post in December after stumbling out of the blocks in 2018-19.
A former favourite was asked to salvage a faltering season, and Treble-winning hero Solskjaer has delivered by collecting 12 wins from 15 games to raise morale and lift United up the Premier League table.
Plaudits have rained down on the Norwegian, with Rooney telling CNN when asked for his assessment: "He's just brought smiles back to the players' faces, and brought enjoyment back to the players, but also to the staff who work behind the scenes.
"Ole Gunnar's a fantastic person, if you play with him... I pass advice on, which Ole Gunnar gave to me, which I pass on to some of the younger players now.
"I remember when I was a young lad, I was on the bench, and I was sat next to Ole Gunnar, and he said to me, ‘just keep watching the strikers and the defenders and watch them, watch their movements, and keep visualising what runs you can make when you come on’."
Rooney is no longer around to aid the collective cause at United, but he still believes that he could do a job in the Premier League at 33 years of age.
He said: "If I'm being honest, I know quality wise, I can still play in the Premier League, I know that. I've always been a confident person, and so I have high expectations of myself... I never doubted myself at all."
English football is now part of Rooney’s past, with his present very much MLS.
He impressed during his debut campaign with D.C. United, helping them to book a play-off spot, and admits to having found a fresh start more challenging than he initially imagined.
"I knew that it's a very competitive league," Rooney said.
"I was probably a bit surprised, if I'm being honest, to the amount of quality which is in the league ... I didn't realise how much quality there was in the league player-wise. So, yeah, I think the league is at a very high standard."