WATFORD, September 3- Wayne Rooney has reacted to suggestions that he dived to win a penalty in Manchester United's win over Arsenal last weekend by insisting he is an honest player.Rooney earned and converted the spot-kick that brought United level against the Gunners when he tumbled under goalkeeper Manuel Almunia’s challenge.
Almunia had rushed from his line and appeared to catch Rooney, but television replays showed that the England star may have started to fall before there was any contact.
In the aftermath of Arsenal striker Eduardo’s two-match ban for deceiving the referee to win a penalty against Celtic, Rooney felt compelled to defend himself when questioned on the issue of cheating ahead of England’s friendly against Slovenia on Saturday.
"Everyone who watches me play knows I am an honest player," Rooney said here Thursday. "I play the game as honestly as I can.
"If the referee gives a penalty there is nothing you can do. It is a penalty.
"If they want to take punishment further it is down to UEFA and the people who run the game. As players you just want to play."
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is considering an appeal against Eduardo’s suspension, but even the French coach couldn’t defend a more blatant display of theatrics from Emmanuel Eboue, who was booked for diving during the United match.
Yet Rooney does not believe the problem is any worse now than it has been in the past.
"Diving has been in the game for years," he said. "Probably the coverage the game gets now, with all the cameras around, it gets highlighted a bit more. But it hasn’t got any worse."
Rather than rely on TV evidence to retrospectively punish divers, Rooney feels the referee is still the best person to deal with such issues at the time.
"It is difficult to prove," he said. "You see some that should not have been penalties but get given and others that are clear and do not.
"The decisions are down to the referee. It is a difficult job but they do the best they can."
Rooney does feel players have a role to play as well because divers are not just cheating the opposition, they are duping the fans as well.
"England has always had a good record of being honest," he said. "It is important you try and play honestly.
"You don’t like to see anyone cheating. It is not fair on the fans or the opponents."