When Wayne Rooney announced his retirement from football yesterday I had a strange, overriding feeling I just couldn’t pinpoint or get my head around.
I don’t support Man United and I don’t really care that much about England. So why was I bothered? I began to think and it soon became apparent that Rooney (for all he is or isn’t, was or wasn’t) is my generation, my era in a nutshell. We are of similar age and there’s perhaps a sorry realisation my own amateur football days are coming to an end. Maybe his finish closes the book on everyone our age’s football playing endeavours, I don’t know. Whether that’s it or not I’ve seen Rooney’s entire career unfold, properly. All of it. Start to finish.
Wayne Rooney finished his career Manchester United’s and England’s all time leading goalscorer and is decorated, winning everything at club level multiple times. It’s an astonishing haul. And yet, he still divides opinion more than any other player.
From the burst onto the scene 16 year old sensation, the prime serial Premier League winner to the winding down questions asked, question marked Rooney. That unfortunate stage they all go through, him more than most. I feel like I’ve been on his journey.
I never made a concerted effort to follow Wayne Rooney’s career, it followed me and you couldn’t escape it. The ravaging, unforgiving English press pack – Overhyping, overexciting and sensationalising. The saviour, the golden boy, the next…………. England get knocked out. Rooney’s fault. Quickly knocked off the perch they have created themselves all in the name of fast newspaper-selling opportunities. And people quick forget. It’s the reason ‘the golden generation’ never won World Cups and the reason England will probably never win anything again. A cultural problem and the Rupert Murdock mentality.
It’s a funny thing to say being English hindered, certainly Rooney’s international career because he’s stereotypical English. Take the English style and mindset away from him and he’d be half the player. It’s his fellow countrymen sat behind a desk who have perhaps cost him a World Cup. Who knows, there are many other factors, a lot of what if’s, but’s and Rooney himself. This of course, is merely an opinion.
What I do know, and what shouldn’t be up for much debate, is that Wayne Rooney was the full package on the football pitch. Strong and quick, powerful and off-the-cuff clever with superb technical ability. He was a brilliant link up player and a master at finding pockets, never afraid to try something different and that’s what made him stand out, he was fearless. Some of the goals were outrageous and there were a lot but that was secondary. Everything centred around the team. He was selfless, unselfish and would run all day with a firery temperament and insatiable desire to win, to be better each game, each season. He was fully committed and always on the edge, a pot that could boil over and often did. A peak Wayne Rooney is as good as the Premier League has seen.
What a player.