Manchester Unitedstar Wayne Rooney might leave in the summer
Even though the likelihood is that he will not be at Old Trafford next season, Rooney says it was vital for United to beat Ajax in Stockholm to secure a return to the Champions League and underline that progress is being made under Jose Mourinho.
After going two seasons without winning a major trophy following Sir Alex Ferguson retirement in 2013, United have now lifted four in 12 months – the FA Cup under Louis Van Gaal last May followed by the Community Shield, League Cup and Europa League under Mourinho.
And Rooney predicts it can be proven to be the springboard for United – who finished sixth, their second lowest finishing place in the Premier League era – to re-establish themselves as serious challengers for both the domestic title and the Champions League next season.
And he thinks qualifying via the 'back door' route of the Europa League is better than doing it by finishing second, third or fourth because it means winning a trophy while installing a winning mentality into the squad that is vital for future success.
He said: "We all know how important it is for this club to be in the Champions League, so it was a big win for us in Stockholm on both arguments. You can say it’s a trophy but also it’s a Champions League spot.
"Look at Tottenham. They have had a fantastic season, finished second, but with no trophies to show for it. We’re in the same position, in the Champions League, with two trophies.
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It's always great to win trophies
Manchester United star Wayne Rooney
"It's always great to win trophies. It's why you play football.
"We needed to start winning silverware again and, to be honest, If you had said we would win four trophies in last two seasons, you would have thought ‘where are those trophies going to come from?’
"But we’ve managed to do that and I feel we’re progressing as a team and a club, and I’m sure now there’ll be many more to come. Some of the younger players had never played in a European final but now they have got that experience."
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Having worked under Mourinho for a year, the Manchester United star has a clearer understanding of why his managerial record is so good. The Europa League triumph extended Mourinho's remarkable record to 12 wins in 14 major domestic and European finals, including his spells at Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and now United.
He added: "I think he just knows how to win games. Having this season with him, I’ve seen how he works. He makes us so hard to beat and then hopes we’ll get a goal or two to win the game.
"Challenging for the Premier League and Champions League is where this club needs to be and I certainly believe they've got the right man to lead them to that."
Rooney passed on his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of the Manchester bomb blast.
"I have to pass my condolences to the families of the victims. It was such a sad day and we all felt it as a team, as a city and as a country.
"Obviously football doesn’t bring back the lives that are lost, but it was vital for us to try and hopefully give some happiness to the city."