, GARY AND WAYNE S
MICHAEL HEALY reflects on the goalscoring feats of two of England’s greatest strikers
FOR this summer anyway, Gary Lineker and Wayne Rooney are tied on 48 England goals in equal second place,one behind Bobby Charlton, in the all-time England scorers’ list.
Rooney looks certain to score more soon, especially with the likes of San Marino to come later in the year. Charlton has held the record for nearly 50 years and has a very similar record to Rooney – 49 goals in 106 games as opposed to 48 in 105. Might Rooney be capable of holding the record for a similar time?
Unless something dramatic happens, he seems destined to smash the record and make a very hard total to beat for future generations. As of this moment, while Lineker and Rooney are tied, it seems a good time to have a look at their England goal totals.
How do they compare and contrast? Lineker first played for England as a 23-year- old Leicester City player in May 1984 when he came on as a substitute for scorer Tony Woodcock in a 1-1 away draw with Scotland.
Rooney’s debut came in February 2003 as a 17-year-old in a 3-1 home defeat to Australia, just four months after his league debut, when he came on as a half-time sub. In fact, the whole team was replaced at half-time in this friendly match.
Lineker scored his first in a 2-1 home win against the Republic of Ireland in March1985, his second game but first start,while, perhaps surprisingly, Rooney had to wait until his sixth international,a 2-1 away win versus Macedonia, to score his first goal.
Lineker had an eight-year England career, playing his final game in June 1992 when he was controversially subbed by manager Graham Taylor against Sweden in the European Championships, and amassed a total of 80 games (74 starts and 6 sub appearances).
At the moment, Rooney has been an international for more than 12 years and has played 105 times now for his country (99 starts and 6 sub appearances) with his latest appearance and goal coming v Slovenia in June.
While he looks certain to smash through the goalscoring record, it would be no surprise if he does the same to the appearance record. At only 29, he surely has a few years to overtake Peter Shilton’s record of 125 and make that a very hard target to beat also.
Back in 1992 it looked likely that Lineker would go on to be the record holder but he failed to score in his last six games, including a famous penalty miss against Brazil.
Lineker scored his goals in 25 fewer games but he always played as a centre-forward whereas Rooney has had to play a fair number of games in midfield or out wide.
Both players’ totals include four penalties as well as being involved in high pressure penalty shoot-outs.
Lineker was also the man for a hat- trick. Between 1985 and 1991, he scored three or more on five occasions. In this time, no other player scored a hat-trick for England. That was 17 goals in those five games – more than a third of his total. He was certainly someone to punish a weak defence and be totally ruthless when on top form.
He netted four v Malaysia in 1991, four v Spain in 1987, two hat-tricks v Turkey in 1985 and 1987, and his really important treble v
Top of the pile: Bobby Charlton