Something to roo
Should Wayne have done better?
SURELY, it wasn’t a total surprise that Wayne Rooney was recently arrested on suspicion of drink driving close to his Cheshire home? It isn’t the first time the former England captain has acted irresponsibly during his career.
Needless to say, he had serious explaining to do to his wife Coleen, and Everton manager Ronald Koeman. He knows it isn’t the example he should be setting his own children or those youngsters who continue to idolise him.
Everyone makes mistakes and Rooney, now 31, will have to accept the consequences.
First and foremost, Wayne Rooney has enjoyed a fantastic career during his time with Manchester United and with England.
His medal collection from his 13 seasons at Old Trafford is the stuff of dreams. Having won five Premier League titles, the Champions League in 2008 and the FA Cup in 2016, and ending as Manchester United’s leading goalscorer with 253 goals, Rooney has arguably fulfilled most of his ambitions at club level.
Having become the youngest player ever to represent England back in February 2003, he never recaptured the devastating form he demonstrated at Euro 2004.
If it hadn’t been for an untimely metatarsal injury against hosts Portugal in the quarterfinal, the 18-year-old Rooney may well have inspired England to their first major honour since 1966.
Injuries or loss of form always seemed to hamper his performances at major tournaments and although he went on to become England’s leading goalscorer with 53 goals from his 119 appearances (another record for an outfield player) would he get in many supporters’ greatest-ever England side?
Would he get in Manchester United’s? Is he in the same company as Best, Charlton, Law, Giggs? Will he be as fondly remembered on the terraces as Edwards, Robson or Cantona?
England fans tend to have a fondness for Gary Lineker, because of the memories he conjured up at major tournaments, most notably in Mexico and Italy.
The prolific Jimmy Greaves’ goals-pergame ratio was a staggering 44 goals in 57 games and that is before you even consider the merits of Nat Lofthouse, Tom Finney, Michael Owen and Alan Shearer. Rooney continues to divide opinion.
When Rooney does retire he should, of course, be remembered as one of this country’s finest ever players, but there will always be that nagging doubt that he never really fulfilled his true potential. There were periods in his career when it was mooted that he could step up and be included in the same company as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
The Champions League finals of 2009 and 2011 were billed as his opportunity to prove that he was a world-class performer, but he was upstaged on both occasions by Barcelona’s Tika-Taka and, especially, Messi. Rooney was good but not that good.
As a fearless youngster, Rooney struck fear into defences with his power, aggression and technique. Top players were awestruck by his ability and confidence but by the age of 29 and struggling at Manchester United, there were critics proclaiming that his legs had gone.
Certainly he had lost that real injection of pace and was being utilised more in midfield or in a wider position. In his final season at Old Trafford, Jose Mourinho started him just seven times in the Premier League after Christmas.
For me, Rooney had all the natural ability to become a world-class player, but he didn’t possess the right mindset to actually achieve it. Maybe the drive to become the very best wasn’t in him? Maybe it is an English trait to become too comfortable once you have become first choice for club and country?
Don’t get me wrong, to achieve the level he did is out- standing, the stuff of boyhood dreams, but why was he never considered to be on the same level as Messi or Ronaldo? Perhaps Rooney’s lifestyle has something to do it. He has always struggled with his weight and liking a drink is never conducive to peak fitness. Maybe Rooney was content with what he had, having played for the club he so passionately supported as a child, winning honours with Manchester United and virtually being a first pick for England. Combined with the money and the fame, he had probably fulfilled all his expectations. But take his former Manchester United teammate Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese also came from a workingclass background, having been born into poverty on the island of Madeira. His father struggled with alcoholism and Ronaldo had to leave the family home for Lisbon as a young boy to try and realise his dream of becoming a footballer. Like Rooney, he joined Manchester United as a promising teenager, so he was presented with the same opportunities. They were managed by the disciplinarian Sir Alex Ferguson, experienced the same coaches and had the same facilities open to them. Ronaldo wanted to improve. He transformed his physique, learned how to handle the aggression and pace of the Premier League and was rewarded with his dream move to Real Madrid in 2009. Ronaldo was relentless in his quest to be the best. He wants to win the Ballon d’Or every season. It means everything to him. He wants to score the most goals in La Liga and beat his nemesis Messi to the Pichichi. Ronaldo thrives on that competition and uses it as his motivation to improve. Rooney would prefer to go out on a Saturday night with his mates. Because of their differing mentalities, Ronaldo went on to become one of the greatest footballers ever. Rooney achieved great things in his career, but arguably never fulfilled the potential he showed as a carefree teenager.
Glory days: At Man United
Cristiano Ronaldo Lionel Messi Fresh-faced: Playing for England