Wayne Rooney converted a penalty that that won Manchester United their 19th league title.”I was terrified, the ref took a long time to give it,” Rooney told Sky Sports 2 afterwards.”I had to compose myself, I’d been practising all week.”
Making reference to his transfer request and contract dispute earlier in the season, Rooney added: “After the year I’ve had, with the ups and downs, this is for the fans and the team.”
United’s 19th title is one more than Liverpool, and former Everton striker Rooney said: “For me personally, being an Everton fan, to win a 19th title is special.”
Ryan Giggs, winning his 12th title, said: “It’s a tough league to win and it’s still as special as ever.
“We have the desire and it’s a pleasure to play in this team. We want to win trophies.”
Asked if he was concerned with the criticism that United’s current team does not compare to others in their history, Giggs added: “We’re champions and in the Champions League. We’re rubbish aren’t we?
“Twenty years ago we were nowhere near Liverpool. It’s great credit to the club, the manager and the players and it’s a good feeling to be ahead of our greatest rivals.
Twenty-two goal striker Dimitar Berbatov, out of the side in recent weeks, said: “A second title for me is great. I scored many goals this season and helped the team win it. I’m still the leading goalscorer.”
United great Gary Neville, now working in the media following his retirement earlier in the season, said: “These are the moments you live for. They will have the best night of their lives.”
England defender Rio Ferdinand added: “We missed out last year by a point and it was here we pretty much lost the league (with a 0-0 draw) so it was nice to come back here and get it done.
“We gave away a soft goal but we persevered and got our rewards. To get it done this week makes it easier for the manager, I’m sure.
“It’s a better league this year, teams have been beating each other from the bottom to the top which makes it more exciting for the fans.”
Ferdinand has endured a tough time with injuries over recent seasons and added: “I’m delighted, it’s been a hard couple of years being out but if you work hard you get your rewards.”
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson felt the title-clinching point summed up his side’s character.
“It was a fantastic performance by the lads and the supporters and for everybody connected with the club it’s a great day today,” he said.
“It wasn’t an easy game, we went 1-0 down having given them a bad goal but we kept on and we don’t give in. It looked like it was not going to be our day, we’ve always had it difficult here.
“It is a local derby and they are fighting for their lives, looking for that point, but we kept going and that’s a good quality.”
Asked about the possible challenge Liverpool could make under Kenny Dalglish in the future, Ferguson said of his old rivals: “It’s not easy, this league – as they’ll find out!”
MAN UTD IN PL: THE NUMBERS
• 733 matches
• 132 players used
• 471 wins
• 158 draws
• 104 defeats
• 1448 goals scored
• 625 goals conceded
• 1571 points won
• Top Scorers: Giggs (105), Scholes (102), Rooney (102)
• Most Appearances: Giggs (573), Scholes (465), G Neville (400)