WAYNE Rooney has expressed his pride at being named Manchester United captain by manager Louis van Gaal.
The Barclays Premier League club announced after the 2-1 pre-season friendly win over Valencia that the 28-year-old was to be given the armband, with Darren Fletcher named vice-captain.
Rooney spoke earlier this year of his ambition to skipper both United and England.
Nemanja Vidic’s departure to Inter Milan and Steven Gerrard’s international retirement have opened up the possibility that both could now become a reality for the former Everton man.
“It is a huge honour for me - and for my family - to be named captain of this great club,” he said on manutd.com.
“It is a role I will perform with great pride. Team spirit has always been very high in our dressing room and I am very grateful to the manager for the faith he has shown in me.
“I look forward to leading the team out on Saturday at our first match of the new season.”
Van Gaal has been impressed with the England striker’s approach since taking over at Old Trafford earlier this summer and believes he will give his heart and soul to his new role.
“For me, it’s always very important, the choice of captain,” the Dutchman said.
“Wayne has shown a great attitude towards everything he does. I have been very impressed by his professionalism and his attitude to training and to my philosophy. He is a great inspiration to the younger members of the team and I believe he will put his heart and soul into his captaincy role.”
Amid reports linking United with Sporting Lisbon’s Argentina defender Marcos Rojo, Van Gaal named a starting XI against Valencia.
The United boss was not fully satisfied with his team’s display, but took confidence from the final outcome in his first match at Old Trafford as substitute Marouane Fellaini struck a stoppage-time winner to maintain the Red Devils’ 100 per cent record in pre-season.
He said on MUTV: “I think it was our worst match today. We did not play to the capacity that we showed in the United States too much.
“There were a lot of wrong choices, wrong passes. We didn’t press so good but I think Valencia is a very good team, very comfortable on the ball and not so easy to press against.”
Rooney had missed a penalty before Fletcher’s deflected shot put United ahead early in the second half.
Rodrigo capitalised on Tom Cleverley’s mistake to equalise for Los Che, but Fellaini, who had come on alongside fellow Belgian World Cup player Adnan Januzaj, had the final word.
“In spite of that we have dominated the game and only for 15 minutes in the second half were we not dominating,” Van Gaal continued. “I think at the end we were the winners because we were fighting til the last minute and that is a good signal.
“We are at this moment fitter than our opponents and you could see that and also the (substitutions) helped of course. Now Fellaini and Januzaj have only been with us one week, one and a half weeks so they cannot play more minutes.
“They did reasonably well but they can do better, I believe, but it is a start for them.”