Rooney became England’s all-time leading goalscorer earlier this term and recently scored his 237th goal for Man United, making him the club’s joint-second highest scorer in the process, equal with Denis Law.
However, Rooney has been coming under increasing scrutiny from fans and pundits alike following some poor performances over the course of the campaign.
Mata insisted he is “proud” to play with Rooney at Old Trafford.
“When we speak about Wayne we’re speaking about the captain of England and my team Manchester United,” Mata said.
“He’s a very important player. He’s scored more goals than anyone in the English national team and at United.
“I know he can play in different positions. At the end it’s Roy Hodgson or Louis van Gaal who decides but obviously if he’s close to the box he will score more.
“I feel very proud to play alongside him in my team and it will be very difficult to face him tomorrow.”
While Rooney’s displays will continue to come under question, Mata is absolutely right in saying that fans should remember his status at United. Rooney should be regarded as a club legend and it seems to have been easy for supporters to forget this following some poor showings.