Rooney retired as Manchester United and England’s all-time top scorer as well as lifting five Premier League titles, two FA Cups, one Champions League and one Europa League.

But of all the things he has done in the game, steering Derby away from relegation after all the turmoil they have faced would make him proudest

‘It would be the biggest achievement in football for me,’ Rooney added.

‘To deal with everything and manage to stay up, but there is a lot of hard work to do before we start to do that.’

Derby are rock bottom of the league with only one point to their name after being docked 12 points for going into administration in September and then deducted a further nine in November after admitting breaches of the EFL’s accounting rules.

If things are bleak at boardroom level, they are just as bleak on the pitch, with only one win in their last 10 league matches.

But Rooney retains belief his side can still avoid the drop to League One, just as they did on the final day of last season.

‘If you don’t believe, then we may as well all go home,’ Rooney said in an interview with ESPN.

‘Football is a crazy game at times, and crazy things happen. If we can make the fans smile for 90 minutes or give them the hope we can achieve something, we will do everything we can to do that.’

‘The table doesn’t lie,’ he said. ‘However we look at it, it is not going to be good for next two or three weeks. But I believe that, come February-March, we can look at the table and say we have got a chance or we will get relegated, will have a better understanding of where we are at.’

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