Centenary Rooney Is an England Great

In 2004 an 18-year-old Wayne Rooney took the Euros by storm, with his footballing brain and raw athletic power. “I don’t remember anyone making such an impact on a tournament since Pele in the 1958 World Cup,” said ex-England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Such high acclaim, for such young shoulders, but Rooney was worthy of the hype, scoring four goals and being named in UEFA’s Team of the Tournament. No Englishmen had taken international football like a duck to water since Michael Owen in France ‘98.

Ten years on and Euro 2004 seems to be the highlight of Rooney’s international career. He’s a different type of player to the Rooney we saw in Euro 2004, one that had energy and raw pace. Now he has lost some of that pace, he has become a classic number “Ten”. Great players adapt and Rooney fulfilled that particular theory.

With his club (Manchester United) he achieved everything as part of a collective group of superstars. With England he has become something of a let down. Always built up to be the star amongst the best, he failed to live up to that tag.

Cristiano Ronaldo was seen as an inferior player initially at Manchester United, but he worked tirelessly off the pitch, in order to become one of the true greats of the game. Currently Cristiano has done just that, and is regarded as one of the best, alongside Lionel Messi. The latter is perhaps where Rooney gets the most flack. He could have been as good as Lionel and Cristiano, but didn’t alter his diet or work tirelessly in the gym as his counter parts did.

His private life has been put under the microscope as well, with his affair with a prostitute causing much bad and unnecessary press. This along with many dealings of unprofessionalism, has called his reputation as a professional under much stigma.

However, you cannot argue with the amount of success he’s had for Manchester United, as well as his continuity for his country. On Sunday he will receive his ‘golden cap’ from Sir Bobby Charlton, marking his hundredth appearance for England, at only 29 years of age. A remarkable achievement for someone so young.

In my own opinion he has shown frightening continuity for club and country. Yes, he didn’t quite fulfill his prophecy of becoming one of the best ever, but he should be regarded as one of England’s greatest players. We should embrace and applaud a player that has become the focal point of England’s attack for the last ten years.

Picture Credits: Илья Хохлов

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