The 31-year-old, with 247 goals to his name, is just three goals away from cementing himself as the club’s all time top scorer.
Mata and Rooney will find themselves on opposing sides on Tuesday night with England hosting Spain for a friendly at Wembley.
Speaking ahead of the game, the Spaniard showered praise on the England and Man United captain.
“I consider him a legend,” he said.
“As for matches and goals, he is up to above Sir Bobby Charlton and Gary Lineker [for England]. We are talking about the most important players in the history of English football.
“Wayne has achieved things that few have reached. He is at the highest level in the history of English football.
“Sometimes I have the impression that it is not fair to look only at the present and not the path – everything that has made a player for his club or country. That is the case with Wayne.”
317 goals for club and country, ten major honours, and the unyielding adoration of millions around the globe. Rooney will be enshrined as a legend for club and country for years to come.
Whether he will be spoken in the same breath as the likes of, say, George Best, Eric Cantona and Cristiano Ronaldo, only history can say.
Regardless, whilst his technical prowess may have dramatically faded, his influence in the dressing room – as exemplified by sentiments shared by the likes of Mata and Ander Herrera – remains potent.