Former Liverpool star Stan Collymore has jumped to the defence of Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney.

Collymore wrote in the People: "Wayne Rooney has taken ­unfair criticism this week after his performance against Real Madrid.

"Those who say he once again failed to deliver on the big stage are way out of order. In the really big matches for Manchester United, Rooney more often than not is forced to adopt roles he would not choose for himself.

"And too often he and the other United forwards do not get the service they need.

"How easily these critics forget the moments when Rooney really did ­deliver on the big stage. I don't think I was imagining it when Rooney scored a blinder against Barcelona in the Champions League final in 2011, was I?

"Or what about that incredible overhead kick he sent flying into the net in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford a couple of years ago?

"Since then, Rooney has become one of the most selfless players I have ever seen.

"Of course he'd like to be the man scoring all the goals for the Old Trafford club, but he also realises there are times when he has a job to do for the team.

"And that's why you'll sometimes even see him filling in at left-back!"