Wayne Rooney strikes back after 'knock-out' video

Striker scored against Spurs hours after video emerged in which Phil Bardsley appears to knock him unconscious

Wayne Rooney
(Image credit: Shaun Botterill/Getty)

Wayne Rooney woke up on Sunday morning to a splash in The Sun on Sunday alleging that he had been knocked out during a sparring contest with friend and Stoke City defender Phil Bardsley.

The incident was said to have happened on 22 February, when Rooney's wife Coleen was away with the children on holiday, and he decided to invite over some pals for a boys' night in.

One of those was Bardsley, and in video footage released on the Sun's website, he and Rooney can be seen squaring up to each other in the kitchen the day after United's 2-1 defeat at Swansea.

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Wearing gloves – but not shoes – Rooney and Bardsley exchange jabs and a few half-hearted punches. Then the Stoke man catches the England captain with a rather innocuous left-hand jab and down goes Rooney.

According to The Sun the Manchester United striker was "knocked out sparko", and celebrities soon took mockingly to Twitter. Former cruiserweight and heavyweight champion David Haye declared: "Next time you're in London Wayne Rooney pop to my gym, I'll show you some useful defence and head movement".

Nonetheless Rooney made light of the punch when he scored United's final goal in their 3-0 defeat of Tottenham on Sunday. Pouncing on a stray Spurs pass ten minutes before half-time, Rooney slotted the ball past Hugo Lloris and celebrated by throwing a flurry of air punches before falling backwards as if knocked out by a haymaker.

"Brilliant celebration by Wayne Rooney," tweeted former Commonwealth light heavyweight champion Tony Bellew. "Never take yourself too seriously and learn to laugh at everything! Even yourself."

Boxing promoter Barry Hearn also enjoyed the self-mockery, tweeting: "One of the great celebrations of all time. Well done Wayne Rooney."

When Rooney was asked about the footage after the game, he told reporters: "That's the world we live in today. It's in my own home, it's not public, it's what friends do – they mess around in the house. It was a couple of mates in a private house, and somehow it's managed to get on the front page of a national newspaper.

"I've just been focussed on the game, it's more interesting for other people rather than for me. You've seen today, I've done a professional job and helped my team win 3-0."

The sceptics believe, however, that The Sun edited the footage to suit its own agenda and didn't show Rooney jumping to his feet moments after pretending to be knocked out.

Tanya Bardsley, wife of Rooney's sparring partner, said on Twitter: "Seen the sun, 2 mates havin a laugh video doesn't show Wayne jumping straight up and laughing with Phil #cleveredit."

Nonetheless, Arun Ranganathan, a consulant surgeon in trauma and orthopaedic surgery at the Royal London Hospital, warned fans against copying Rooney's antics.

"The skull is a fixed cavity and the brain can be knocked about inside there," he told the Daily Telegraph. "There was a risk of brain contusion and subdural haematoma. In some cases, it does not present itself immediately."

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Bill Mann is a football correspondent for The Week.co.uk, scouring the world's football press daily for the popular Transfer Talk column.