Incoming Manchester United manager David Moyes lauded Wayne Rooney as an "exceptional talent".
Alex Ferguson, who will retire at the end of the season, confirmed on Sunday that the England international had handed in a transfer request at Old Trafford.
But Moyes, who worked with Rooney at Everton, is keen for the striker to stay at the club and is set to hold talks with the 27-year-old in the near future.
During a speech delivered at the Cambridge Union Society, Moyes said: "Wayne Rooney was and is an exceptional talent.
"When we sold him to Manchester United, he was fantastic. When he left Everton, he was already an outstanding player.
"Some of the things he used to do in training we would stand back and look at each other, and say, 'How did he do that?' You would see the staff exchange glances as if to say, 'Can you believe that?'
"He was brilliant, some of the stuff he did. He was football-mad. Every training session he would run out, volleying the ball everywhere.
"He was just a really good 16-year-old footballer, but the thing was, he could have left training and then gone out into the street and played with his pals and thought nothing of it.
"A lot of people use the terminology 'street footballer' and I really think Wayne was the last of the classic street footballers. You could see him in the street, hitting the ball against the walls with his friends.
"Part of that culture has gone but, coming from Glasgow, I knew what it was like."
The news of Rooney's transfer request has not gone down well with United's fans and the forward was booed during the presentation of the Premier League trophy on Sunday and on the club's celebratory parade on Monday.