'I left a hole in his foot': How cold cases are haunting ex-players

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Pictured right, Wayne Rooney admits he deliberately injured John Terry during a match in 2006.
Wayne Rooney's admission about deliberately injuring John Terry in 2006 has sparked plenty of debate in the sporting world. Pic: Getty

A dangerous precedent is unfolding in the UK that, knowing how these things work, could seep into Australian sport.

One of the biggest names in English football – former Manchester United and England striker and now Derby County manager Wayne Rooney – has been contacted by head office (the Football Association) to explain his comments in an article relating to an incident 15 years ago.

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Rooney, recalling a crucial league game between United and fellow title aspirants Chelsea in 2006, admitted he went out to deliberately hurt Blues skipper John Terry.

"We knew if Chelsea won then they had won the league that day," Rooney said of the trip to Stamford Bridge.

"I always wore the old plastic studs with the metal tip (but) for that game I changed them to big, long metal ones – the maximum length you could have because I wanted to try and hurt someone, try and injure someone.

"I knew they were going to win that game. You could feel they were a better team at the time so I changed my studs. The studs were legal but thinking if there’s a challenge there I knew I’d want to go in for it properly, basically. I did actually.

"John Terry left the stadium on crutches. I left a hole in his foot and then I signed my shirt to him after the game … and a few weeks later I sent it to him and asked for my stud back.

"If you look back when they were celebrating, JT’s got his crutches from that tackle."

Seen here, Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney's fierce challenge on Chelsea's John Terry at Stamford Bridge in 2006.
Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney's fierce challenge on Chelsea's John Terry saw the Blues captain leave Stamford Bridge on crutches in 2006.

Wayne Rooney facing possible retrospective action

Unsavoury stuff no doubt, but is it worthy of official sanction?

Surely there's some sort of statute of limitations on what happens on the field?

Is it fair Rooney, now a manager, be censured and potentially stood down for something that happened 15 years ago at a different club and has only now come out in an interview?

It'd be like the NRL threatening to stand down Broncos coach Kevvie Walters for admitting he went out to flatten Noel Goldthorpe in the 1992 grand final or the AFL citing Chris Scott for conceding he targetted Nick Riewoldt's broken collarbone while playing for the Lions against St Kilda in 2005.

Sydney-based sports lawyer Matt Curll doubts handing out breaches for 'cold case' incidents would stand up in court if tested.

He told Yahoo Sport Australia: "You'd have to see if there are any obligations a manager signs up to in as far as passing a fit and proper person test, but you'd think they (the English FA) are drawing a very long bow.

"You'd have to think Rooney is an improved person over the last 16 years and he'd have a fair argument to say he's an improved person.

"It's all too late. It's hard to see they'd have to leg to stand on to discipline him and I think it'd be the case in Australia as well if it arose here."

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