Wayne Rooney admits he is desperate to lift the FA Cup – the one major trophy that has eluded him throughout his club career.
The England and Manchester United captain says Monday night’s quarter-final against Arsenal is “massive” – and it is so especially for the 29-year-old who has twice been on the losing side in the final.
United have the benefit of home advantage but the Gunners are in better form – and are defending the trophy.
Rooney watched Everton lift the FA Cup in 1995 and the memories of that make him even more determined to match his old club’s achievement.
He said: “We have an FA Cup quarter-final against Arsenal on Monday and that is massive for us.
“We haven’t been to a final for a few years, we want to try to win that game and we are looking forward to that.
“Of course, I think it is a massive trophy. It is a trophy that, growing up as a youngster, I used to love watching and I was fortunate enough to see Everton lift the FA Cup in 1995 when I was nine years old. It is something which I would love to do and hopefully it can be this year.”
United were 2-0 winners over Arsenal in 2011, the last FA Cup meeting between the sides since the 2005 final in Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, when the match finished 0-0 but the Gunners won after a penalty shoot-out.
Rooney scored in that shoot-out, as did Robin van Persie – for Arsenal. Van Persie and Juan Mata are the only members of the United squad to have FA Cup winners’ medals, but both came with other clubs.
Rooney, who has nine major honours with United, was also on the losing side in 2007 when Didier Drogba’s goal in extra-time earned Chelsea a 1-0 triumph at the new Wembley Stadium.
With so many of the top Premier League teams out of the competition whoever wins on Monday will have a huge chance to go all the way.
Manchester United boss Louis Van Gaal said: “It is a game, 11 v 11 on a high level. Arsenal and Manchester United are placed third and fourth. It is nearly a final I think.”