New Delhi: Argentina captain Lionel Messi has hailed his England counterpart Wayne Rooney as "once in a generation player" after the Manchester United player's record breaking exploits in the recent 2016 Euro qualifiers.
A report in the Mirror quoted the four-time World Player of the Year winner hailing Rooney as a "special" player.
“Wayne Rooney is for me a once in a generation player. One of those special players, who is not comparable to any other," Messi said.
On Tuesday, during Three Lions' 2-0 win over Switzerland in a Euro 2016 qualifier at Wembley, Rooney scored from the spot to break Bobby Charlton's 45 year old record as England's top-scorer.
With 50 international goals, Rooney is currently tied at 43rd position in the all-time list of national team top scorers, which is led by Iran's Ali Daei with 109 strikes. Aged 29, the England captain is expected to improve his tally substantially before his retirement.
"There are many special players, but Rooney has exceptional quality and technical ability as well as being one of the strongest players I have faced with an exceptional work rate - there is nobody like him," Messi added.
Messi, who also scored in Argentina's 2-2 draw with Mexico in an international friendly, is also one shy of reaching that magical 50-goal mark for his country. And he requires another seven goals to become Argentina's top scorer, a record currently in the name of World Cup winner Gabriel Batistuta.
The Barcelona talisman went onto describe Rooney as a winner, a trait he himself likes to be associated with.
“Rooney is a winner. He will just be focused on success with England in the European Championship. I have always said the same is true of myself and Argentina — breaking caps and goals records mean nothing unless they come with trophies. Like I say, Wayne is a winner. It will always be the team first and personal records second,” Messi stressed.