Some­thing to roo

Should Wayne have done bet­ter?

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.