The England and Man United captain scored a 79th minute header against CSKA Moscow on Tuesday, to equal Denis Law’s goalscoring record for the club and fire United to first in their qualifying group.
Rooney has been criticised by a large section of fans in recent weeks, with many supporters labelling the 30-year-old to be past his best.
However, Herrera has spoken of Rooney’s importance throughout the squad, as well as the relief he felt when his strike against CSKA went in.
“Of course there was relief, but Wayne is one of our most important players,” Herrera said.
“He’s our leader, our captain, and we’re happy when he scores. When he doesn’t score, he fights for the team and that helps a lot as well. He’s very important, and I think he has a very strong mind.
“When he doesn’t score, he keeps fighting in the same way, and that’s important for us. I always say the same: he’s one of the best players in the world, one of the stars, and he’s not selfish. For us, it’s very important when he feels good. When he scores, of course it’s better for everyone, but if not he still fights.
“I can only say what I see, and what I see is that he gives everything. We say the same thing every day: he does a lot of things for the club and the team. Of course he’s one of the best in the world, his trajectory is unbelievable. The way he fights, the way he trains and the way he gives his opinion to the other players. Maybe those on the outside only see what’s on the pitch, but he’s also very important off it.”
There is no denying that Rooney’s performances during the past few weeks have been nothing short of awful. The 30-year-old has looked short of confidence in front of goal, and hasn’t been playing to his normal high standards. In addition to this, Anthony Martial was often shunted out wide to accommodate an underperforming Rooney, something which made the situation all the more frustrating.
Against CSKA, however, Rooney showed glimpses of his old self, and was effective playing just behind Martial, who, unusually, had a disappointing game.
If United are to challenge on all fronts this term, then Rooney rediscovering his goalscoring form would go a long way in United’s quest for silverware. However, one game does not prove much, and it remains to be seen whether the Croxteth-born forward can become an integral part of United’s team once again.