Wayne Rooney – The Most Under-appreciated Footballer Ever?

It was brought to my attention that Wayne Rooney has donated £100,000 of his own money to the victims of the bombing at the Manchester Arena. I thought this was fantastic, and a great gesture from the captain of Manchester United Football Club. Naturally I assumed everyone else would feel the same and would be delighted to see Rooney show solidarity and generosity. It appears I was naive and wrong. Scrolling through social media all I saw were various messages saying ‘but that’s only a third of what he earns a week’ and ‘he burnt through five times that in a casino last week’. I thought to myself how can our national captain do no right? What I thought was an amazing gesture and an act of philanthropism, was disputed by others.

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This reminded me of the time Rooney attended some fans wedding reception on his night off after being invited as he was staying in the hotel where the reception was taking place. Rooney even paid for the nights event and was happy to take pictures with everyone. Yet everyone was outraged after pictures were leaked of him looking slightly worse for wear, even though guests at the event said he had only consumed two glasses of wine. He was labeled unprofessional and people were asking him to be stripped of his England captaincy. Whereas I see a human being who rarely gets the chance to let loose, have fun and make a young couples wedding night even more special. Big deal.

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One of the reasons basketball player Stephen Curry is so liked is that he is just viewed as a normal guy. He’s not tall by NBA standards, he’s not super athletic, he doesn’t have the reach of a heavyweight boxer, he doesn’t have the leap of a frog, and doesn’t have the strength of a power lifter. Yet he’s exceptionally talented at what he does. Rooney too is just a normal guy. He grew up in Croxteth, a suburb of Liverpool. He is only 5 ft 9 inches and isn’t physically gifted, Sir Alex Ferguson would comment on how he had to work extra hard to remain fit enough to play. Rooney is hardly the best looking bloke and had receding hair at age 16. And he is also exceptional at what he does. Just a normal bloke like the type you would meet down the pub, it may sound stupid but that’s just how he is, he doesn’t have the luxurious image, chiseled abs and good looks Ronaldo does, but it seems people don’t take to this normal image like they do with Stephen Curry. In fact in an article titled ’10 reasons people hate Wayne Rooney’ the author believes people hate him for having a hair transplant whereas fellow England legend Alan Shearer didn’t.

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Sure, Rooney has had his moments of controversy. The most famous has to be adultery. On more than one occasion Rooney has cheated on his childhood sweetheart Coleen. Most notably in 2010, when he cheated on his wife whilst she was pregnant. He’s sworn at the camera’s after scoring a hat-rick against West Ham. There was his boxing bout in his home where he was knocked out by ex-United team mate Phil Bardsley. And there was of course, the Ronaldo moment, who could forget when Ronaldo riled up his United team mate and managed to get him sent off at the 2006 World Cup.

It is often said that Wayne Rooney never lived up to the potential he had as he burst onto the scene at 16 years of age. Some class him as a serial underachiever. Someone that never performs on the big stage. A player that never shows up at the big tournaments. The fact is that few players are as polarising as Rooney. No player has achieved so much but been accused of underachieving. The criticism is unjustified.

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Rooney has entered a decline recently with an extreme amount of miles on the clock, however his decline hasn’t been helped by the decrease in his playing time. In his Manchester United career Wayne Rooney has played in 13 seasons, winning 16 trophies, appearing 559 times and scoring 253 goals to become United’s top scorer over taking the legendary Sir Bobby Charlton. With 53 goals in 118 international caps, Rooney is England’s all-time record goalscorer and second most-capped player, behind Peter Shilton. He is the captain of both Manchester United and England, an amazing achievement. He may be the victim of being in the same era as Ronaldo and Messi, a man who is often compared to them as he appears side by side with them in all those glorious adverts during the lead up to a big tournament, but the truth is he is clearly level below them, as is every world-class player. The criticism that he never showed up during the big tournaments is fair but should not dampen his greatness, Paul Scholes and Steven Gerrard never performed in the big international tournaments but are remembered as the best midfielder’s of their generation. As of the 24th May 2017, Rooney has now officially won everything there is to win for Manchester United.

His honours include:

  • Premier League (5): 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2012–13
  • FA Cup: 2015–16
  • Football League Cup (3): 2005–06, 2009–10, 2016–17
  • FA Community Shield (4): 2007, 2010, 2011, 2016
  • UEFA Champions League: 2007–08
  • UEFA Europa League: 2016–17
  • FIFA Club World Cup: 2008

 

  • UEFA European Under-17 Championship Golden Player (1): 2002
  • PFA Players’ Player of the Year (1): 2009–10
  • PFA Young Player of the Year (2): 2004–05, 2005–06
  • PFA Fans’ Player of the Year (2): 2005–06, 2009–10
  • PFA Premier League Team of the Year (3): 2005–06, 2009–10, 2011–12
  • FWA Footballer of the Year (1): 2009–10
  • Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year (2): 2005–06, 2009–10
  • BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year (1): 2002
  • Bravo Award (1): 2003
  • Golden Boy Award (1): 2004
  • UEFA Euro 2004 Team of the Tournament
  • FIFPro Young Player of the Year (1): 2004–05
  • Premier League Player of the Season (1): 2009–10
  • Premier League Player of the Month (5): February 2005, December 2005, March 2006, October 2007, January 2010
  • England Player of the Year (4): 2008, 2009, 2014, 2015
  • FIFA Club World Cup Most Valuable Player of the Final (1): 2008
  • FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball (1): 2008
  • FIFA FIFPro World XI (1): 2011
  • Premier League 20 Seasons Awards (1992–93 to 2011–12): Best Goal (vs. Manchester City, 12 February 2011)

He is a victim of the English media and their inability to get behind their stars. They’d rather slate their players than support them. This translates to the fans who join in with the Rooney bashing. Manchester United are a hated club with many rivals which will always put a target on a players back and Rooney has become a huge victim of that. Sure, his controversies will obviously contribute to his downfall, but we’ve forgot about other players wrongdoings. People should be supporting a guy that came from nothing to become something special and take inspiration from that, though it appears people are jealous and hateful of it.

When you’re witnessing the United number 10 in the middle of a dry spell, it’s easy to forget these achievements. But its a feat only a handful can match. Numbers never lie and Rooney’s statistics speak for themselves. The mans legacy is unrivalled, he has the silverware and goals to prove it, there’s no Englishman more prolific. You have to wonder what more he could’ve done as he’s racked up more goals for club and country than anyone before him. You may not like him as a person, you may not like him as a player, but you’ll regret it when he retires and you’ll miss him when he’s gone.

 

SJ

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