PREMIER LEAGUE

Piqué "bullied" out of Premier League at Bolton, says Rooney

Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney thinks a 1-0 loss to Bolton in late 2007 spelled the end of Gerard Piqué's career at Old Trafford.

Piqué "bullied" out of Premier League at Bolton, says Rooney

Wayne Rooney says Gerard Piqué was "bullied" out of the Premier League because he could not handle Bolton Wanderers' physicality.

Before he returned to Barcelona and became a key figure in sides that won La Liga and the Champions League on multiple occasions, Piqué spent four years at Manchester United.

However, with Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand the regular centre-back pairing of choice for Alex Ferguson, Piqué only featured in 12 Premier League games prior to re-joining Barça in 2008.

"Bolton away more or less finished Piqué's career at United"

And it was a game in Piqué's final season - a 1-0 loss to Bolton when the 20-year-old was hauled off after 59 minutes - which Rooney believed spelled the end for his time at Old Trafford.

"Bolton away more or less finished Gerard Piqué's career at United," Rooney wrote in his column for The Sunday Times.

"He was young and got bullied there and I think that's when Fergie decided that, physically, he wasn't right for the Premier League.

"I always remember Vidic: if we were going to Bolton - and it was the same when he was about to face Didier Drogba - he would be in the gym for two or three days before, pumping himself up."

Bolton's only goal that day came courtesy of Nicolas Anelka, when he took advantage of a mistimed Piqué leap to score.

Piqué has since enjoyed huge success with Barcelona and Spain

Piqué has since gone on to win 28 major honours with his boyhood club Barça.

The defender also has over 100 caps for Spain and was part of La Roja teams that won World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012.