Poor role model? Yes. One of the best footballers this country has ever produced? Without a doubt. Losing his touch? Of course not. I take a look back at what Wayne Rooney should be known for.
Wayne Rooney is quite clearly a phenomenal footballer. While his current goalscoring form is nothing to be desired, it is only a matter of time before the England hit-man gets back to his best and resumes the career that has been nothing short of incredible to date.
10) In January 2007, Portsmouth were sitting in sixth position in the Premier League and, after beating Wigan in round three of the FA Cup, were rewarded with a tie at Old Trafford. After Rooney had opened the scoring for the current league leaders on 77 minutes, the England striker lofted an exquisite chip over David James from forty-yards:
The goal was so good that the BBC made a ‘virtual replay’ of it. What purpose did this serve? Your guess is as good as mine.
9) This goal is all about the precision and power of Rooney’s right foot. There aren’t many players in the world that could bring the ball down with one touch, cut inside and then fire in at the near post, right inside the corner:
8) Of course, it is not just Manchester United who benefit from Rooney’s ability. “Wazza” has scored twenty-six goals in sixty-seven appearances for England and this one, against Russia in 2008, was a superb volley and showcased the natural ability that the boy has:
7) It has been said of many footballers, many times, that they cannot perform on the big stage, that they ‘bottle it’ when it comes to the big games, especially against European opponents. This cannot be said of Rooney. He’s scored twenty-two goals in fifty-six appearances in European competitions, and this one against Roma was certainly special:
6) Another example of Rooney showing his prowess on the European stage here. A brilliant turn and perfect finish against AC Milan as United go on to win 3-2:
5) Rooney has scored some absolute stunners against Newcastle United (as you will see later on) and this one is certainly up there. The precision and technique shown is simply sublime and the assist from current Toon player Alan Smith isn’t too bad either:
4) Remember this? I certainly do. I was sitting in front of the television watching ITV1’s The Premiership whilst getting ready for my Sunday league game that day. I’d heard that “a new star had been born” and that he’d “exploded onto the English football scene”, but what I saw that morning was nothing short of spectacular. As a fresh-faced Rooney took the ball down, turned and fired past David Seaman in the Arsenal goal, football fans all over the country stood with mouths open as Wayne helped his Everton side to overcome the Gunners 2-1. To this very day, the commentary is fresh in my memory:
3) When Sir Alex Ferguson pays over £25 million for an eighteen-year-old striker, you know something special is afoot. Scoring seventeen goals in seventy-seven Everton appearances was clearly enough to prove to the Scot that Rooney was a talent and, as United beat Turkish side Fenerbahçe 6-2 at home in 2004, Rooney grabbed a hat-trick to truly announce himself on the European stage:
2) This goal is a personal favourite of mine. The ability to be able to hit a ball that is coming across your body can only be natural ability and instinct. The fact that Rooney catches the ball so well, firing past a hapless Mark Schwarzer in an FA Cup tie against Middlesbrough just adds to the brilliance of the goal:
1) In football, there are goals that make you simply sit back and applaud. There are goals that, when you watch them back years later, they send shivers down your spine. There are some goals that can even leave you speechless. This goal against Newcastle has the ability to do all of the above, and more. The power and technique is impressive enough, but the fact that Rooney beats Shay Given from 25 yards, even though the ‘keeper is in the corner of which he is beaten, is absolutely ridiculous. Not only was it the strike of that season, but it is also one of the best strikes I have ever seen. As Andy Gray quite rightly says, Rooney, “take a bow son”:
No matter what you think of Wayne Rooney, given recent scandals involving his private life, he is an incredible footballer and, hopefully, he will soon rediscover his form and prove that that old cliché is correct: form is temporary, class is permanent.