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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 September, 2004, 08:23 GMT 09:23 UK
Ferguson salutes Rooney
Wayne Rooney
Sir Alex Ferguson admitted Wayne Rooney's debut for Manchester United was as good as any he has seen.

The 18-year-old England striker scored an amazing Champions League hat-trick in the 6-2 win over Fenerbahce.

Asked if he had ever seen such a fine debut, Ferguson said: "I don't suppose so. It is a great start for him.

"That's why we signed him as he's got great potential. But I would rather talk about the game to be honest. He is only 18 and a young boy, don't forget."

And Ferguson warned United's rivals that he expected the young striker - who was playing his first game in three months after breaking his foot at Euro 2004 - to get even better.

"He obviously tired in the last 20 minutes, but given that it was his first game since the European Championships you could expect that," he said.

Given that Wayne and Ruud played together for the first time the future holds great promise
Sir Alex Ferguson

"I think he can only get stronger.

"The important thing for me as a coach is to allow the boy to develop naturally without too much public attention. I want him to be as ordinary as he can."

Ruud van Nistelrooy also netted for United and Ferguson said he was excited about the prospect of the Dutch striker teaming up with Rooney.

"Given that Wayne and Ruud played together for the first time the future holds great promise," he said.

Age: 18
Height: 5ft 10in
Weight: 12st 8lbs
Premiership matches: 67
Premiership goals: 15
European matches: 1
European goals: 3
England caps: 16
England goals: 9

"With Ruud and Wayne as a partnership it was excellent."

And Van Nistelrooy himself was delighted to have finally played alongside Rooney in a competitive match.

"We are all delighted with his performance," said Van Nistelrooy.

"If I was to pick out one thing to praise it would be his attitude. He is only 18, it is his debut and he knows all eyes are on him - yet he just goes out and does his own thing."

Fenerbahce coach Christoph Daum was also extremely impressed with Rooney's performance.

"It was an outstanding debut," said Daum.

"It is something you dream of as a manager for a player to play in this way and to score in this way in his first game.

"If he does that, it makes you very happy and you're a very lucky manager.

"Rooney is still very young and maybe he will become the player of the century. He is at the beginning now though."

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand said: "Wayne's debut was fantastic.

"To get a hat-trick is unbelievable, fairytale stuff. I do not think he knows what pressure is."

Report: BBC Five Live's Simon Brotherton

Interview: Man Utd striker Ruud van Nistelrooy

Interview: Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand

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