The assistant manager of the Super Eagles and the Derby County assistant coach were Toffees teammates at the turn of the millennium before the Englishman went on to carve a legacy for himself at Manchester United
Former Nigeria international Joseph Yobo has praised former Everton teammate Wayne Rooney as one of football’s greatest players, who was blessed with the talent to match both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Yobo joined Everton from Marseille after the 2002 FIFA World Cup with the Nigerian defender going on to make 257 appearances for the Premier League side.
The centre-back was a mainstay of David Moyes’s defence when a teenage Rooney emerged from Everton’s academy, poised to make it to the top of the game.
The English lad realised most of his potential, winning the UEFA Champions League trophy and FIFA Club World Cup, as well as five league titles with Man United.
Rooney, though, never won the FIFA Best Player Award, the UEFA Most Valuable Player or the Ballon d’Or, with the duo of Messi and Ronaldo scooping most of the individual honours available in the last decade.
Yobo knows it would be difficult to beat those two to any honour, but he reveals that he was still surprised that, given Rooney’s talent, the ex-United skipper never made it to the podium of the top three best players in Europe or the world.
“Wayne Rooney, great talent,” Yobo told ChannelsTV when asked to pick the better player between Michael Owen and his compatriot.
“I played with him coming through the ranks (at Everton).
“I saw him at 16 and what this boy could do, wow.
“I’m a little bit surprised that he wasn’t always in the top three (best players).
“I was expecting Messi, Ronaldo, Rooney, always, all through, because he had that talent. He did.”
Rooney will still be regarded as one of the greatest players of his generation after becoming the record goalscorer for both the England national team and Manchester United.