FORMER England striker Wayne Rooney provided an autograph for Dorset trading standards investigators to prove it wasn’t the same as one faked on a Manchester United shirt by con man David Rennie.

Rennie, 46, was today found guilty of fraud at Bournemouth Crown Court after he conned 4,500 people by selling them football shirts, boots and balls with fake autographs, making £1 million.

He claimed he had a team who spent hours waiting outside football training grounds for stars like Rooney, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to sign goods.

Over a nine year period he sold 4,500 autographed items to football fans for as much as £700 each.

But in reality Rennie, from Banbury, Oxfordshire, was buying large quantities of replica shirts from high street shops like Sports Direct, and using a marker pen to create convincing fake autographs.

Officials from Dorset trading standards made a test purchase of a Manchester United shirt supposedly signed by Rooney for £150 after receiving complaints about Rennie's online business, FA Premier Signings.

They contacted Terry Baker, of Christchurch-based A1 Sporting Memorabilia, which represents Rooney, and he took the fake shirt to the then Manchester United player.

From there trading standards launched an eight month investigation into Rennie. His victims included a mother who paid £300 for a 'signed' Thierry Henry shirt to cheer up her son after his father died, and a woman who paid £280 for a ball 'signed' by 23 Liverpool players for her husband's birthday.

The court heard Rennie sold 200 items supposedly signed by Lionel Messi, 272 'signed' by Real Madrid star Ronaldo, 335 bearing Liverpool's Steven Gerrard's signature and 220 with Wayne Rooney's name.

When officers raided Rennie's home they found a stack of unsigned football shirts and balls and boots, as well as the stamp for authenticity certificates.

Rennie didn't pay tax on the money he made and spent some of the cash on family holidays to Florida, on one occasion taking £10,000 spending money with him.

He claimed in court that he had himself been conned buying what he thought were authentic signed goods via eBay and trade fairs.

Rennie, now a postman for Royal Mail, was found guilty of running a fraudulent business over nine years and transferring criminal proceeds to his bank account. He will return to court next month for sentencing.

His estranged wife Clare, 45, has previously pleaded guilty to her part in the con and is also awaiting sentence.

Neil Martin, from trading standards, said: "A successful investigation like this can only happen with the backing of evidence from those affected. This includes consumers, legitimate businesses involved and in this case Wayne Rooney who initially confirmed that a signed shirt we purchased was a fake.

"There are a number of genuine memorabilia business that spend a lot of time and money ensuring that the items they supply are genuine.

"We are very grateful to some of these companies who helped us with this case."