I'm a Wayne Rooney fan, says Soldado
Valencia striker Roberto Soldado has revealed his admiration for Champions League rival Wayne Rooney, saying the Manchester United forward is the player he most likes to watch.
Los Che were beaten 2-0 at Bayern Munich in their opening group game and will be looking to kick-start their campaign against Ligue 1 side Lille at La Mestalla on Tuesday.
"If I look across the Champions League, the guy I most look forward to watching is Wayne Rooney," Soldado said. "Previously, he was more of a centre-forward - a goalscorer - but now he is the type who defends a lot, whose game is growing."
Soldado, 27, played against Rooney and United in the Champions League two seasons ago, and could have been facing him at Old Trafford in the Premier League had interest from Tottenham turned into a transfer.
But the former Real Madrid youth teamer said he had not considered a move from his home-town club, where he signed a new five-year deal last June.
"The two years until now at Valencia have been just fantastic," he said. "Valencia is my city, where I was born, and playing here is one of the greatest things that has happened in my life.
"When the club gave me the opportunity of five more years, I did not think for more than a second. Valencia have ambition. We are a young team that intend to win important things, and I'll be doing my best to make sure that happens."
However,Valencia have not made much impact in Europe's top competition since Soldado joined in 2010, going out at the group stages last year and losing to Schalke in the quarter-finals the previous season.
The Spain international said he hoped his contribution could count for more this time around, saying: "This is the optimum competition, the most beautiful you can play in.
"You feel the importance because, every weekend in your domestic championship, it is what you strive for. You are defending the colours of your team against all of Europe."
Soldado said he hoped his goals for Valencia - 25 in the first season in all competitions, 27 last year - have helped Valencia fans to forget about the man he replaced as their main attacker.
"When I came here, I never expressed it openly, as in replacing David Villa," he said. "But I was really conscious that if things did not go well that tag was going to weigh very heavily for a long time - not just in my own mind but for the press and fans.
"Growing up, I was fixated by all the centre-forwards who were around at the time, so now, to have my name on the shirt, to be the number nine for the team where I grew up, and to be captain is a source of pride."