Wayne Rooney calls Jason Knight a ‘manager’s dream’ and said the decision to make the 19-year-old captain was an easy one as the ‘very vocal’ Derby teen is a natural leader
- Wayne Rooney made the bold decision to make 19-year-old Jason Knight captain
- The ex-Manchester United forward made the decision after becoming Derby boss
- Rooney is not concerned with age and believes the teenager deserved the move
Wayne Rooney’s first big decision as a Derby manager was to select a teenage captain – because he sees similarities to himself in Jason Knight.
The Republic of Ireland midfielder, 19-year-old Knight, was given the honor within hours of Rooney’s tenure on a two-and-a-half-year deal after Scottish international David Marshall succumbed to a non-Covid virus .
Derby have since won two of their three games – including Saturday’s trip to QPR – to climb out of the Championship relegation zone.
Derby teenager Jason Knight (right) became the captain of Derby despite being only 19 years old
Derby boss Wayne Rooney said the decision was an easy one because Knight is a natural leader
In making his choice, memories of informing Sir Alex Ferguson of his own captaincy ambitions in a tumultuous European quarter-final, defeat in the first leg against Roma in April 2007 – with Paul Scholes sending away in the first half and an equalizing goal by one 21 year old Rooney in the second, before the hosts capitalized their numerical advantage – came back.
‘He’s very vocal, which is very rare for a young player these days. He gives everything in training – tackling, running. It’s a lot like the way I was at his age, ”Rooney said.
‘I was a player who, when I was twenty, thought I should be the captain of Manchester United. I told Alex Ferguson that in the Champions League against Roma was gone, and I know Jason Knight is exactly the same.
‘He is a manager’s dream. He gives everything. I said to him after the defeat to Rotherham, “Didn’t you play well because you had the bracelet on?” That was his only bad game.
Knight has impressed Rooney with his work ethic and his boss admitted that age isn’t a factor
‘But I never questioned the age. He’s the one, not only for the younger players in the locker room, but also for the older guys, who others can watch. He gives you energy, desire, runs non-stop.
“ I still want more from him in terms of quality – in terms of crosses, shots, goals, assists – but in terms of what we’re trying to build for this squad he fully deserves whether he’s 19 or 30.
‘To get the recognition and experience shows how highly we think of him.’
Burnley has expressed interest in the Dubliner, who was outstanding in the weekday victory over promotion chase in Bournemouth, but Rooney – who is currently operating under a transfer embargo caused by his club’s failure to pay players and staff last month – insists that no players sold he wants to keep at Pride Park will be penalized.