Wayne Rooney Deserves a Special Homecoming
November 14, 2018
Why are England fans always so fixated on the negative side of their national football team?
Although this point seems rather ill-placed considering the collective atmosphere of last summer’s World Cup, where Gareth Southgate and his young roaring lions had the country unified as one, this communal spirit has steadily been disbanded over the topic of Wayne Rooney.
When it was announced that the Englishman would be granted a final send-off in a testimonial/international friendly game (no one can seem to decide), the backlash that he received was disgraceful. It was as if the FA had granted a farewell game for the retired Bobby Zamora or Kevin Davies, not the nation’s top goal scoring-forward of all time. Although some fans agreed with the decision, predominantly those from the red side of Manchester, many others have disregarded the occasion, but would they do the same for their own club legends?
Rooney’s career has featured some controversial moments and a few dodgy press stories, but his story as a footballer on the field is one fitting of a Hollywood movie script. The Liverpudlian emerged as a young prospect at his boyhood club, moved onto Manchester United as an 18-year-old and thirteen years later, established himself as his club’s and national football team’s greatest ever goalscorer.
One of England’s Finest Ever Talents
Despite no international honours to his name, ‘Wazza’ has been an excellent servant to his nation, boasting an accolade of individual records. After becoming England’s youngest ever player and goalscorer, the forward burst onto the scene as an energetic 17-year-old. After asserting himself as a starter in Euro 2004, at just eighteen years of age, the prolific attacker was often described as a ‘freak of nature’ during the tournament, where the world stood and witnessed the young talent’s qualities on show.
Since his debut competition, Rooney was always a central figure in the national team’s starting XI, occupying his favoured role as a dangerous no.10, affecting games in an offensive and defensive manner. Whether it be through penalty shootouts, speaking into cameras or even prompting a wink from a certain Portuguese player, the Englishman often found himself at the centre of attention throughout most of his international career.
During this time, the former United striker established himself as the nation’s top goalscorer of all time – an achievement that is often overlooked or even downplayed. Ahead of the likes of Bobby Charlton, Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer, Rooney tops the pile and stands tall ahead of any other player that has pulled on the famous white shirt. And yet, his name is often not associated in the same positive light as the aforementioned figures.
Old Rivalries Taint The English Shirt
Although he initially made his name at Everton and, despite an iconic return to his roots in 2017, Rooney’s career will always be remembered for his success as a Red Devil. He was a key cog of the Sir Alex Ferguson era that dominated the Premier League from 2004 onwards. Perhaps this is a reason why rival fans struggle to warm towards him?
Despite the predicted ‘golden era’ of England, most notably under Sven-Goran Eriksson, the side never managed to get their hands on a piece of silverware, despite the figures of John Terry, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Rooney himself. Instead, fans were tormented with disappointing European campaigns and heartbreak, as the expectations were always sky high for The Three Lions.
Inevitably, keen followers of the national team during this era hold some bitterness towards the topic of international football, simply because ‘we never win anything.’ Rio Ferdinand has been keen to address the failure of England’s golden generation, admitting that his obsession with winning at United affected his relationships with team-mates from rival clubs like Chelsea and Liverpool.
To some extent, this ‘old school’ club rivalry has certainly tainted some fan’s perspective on the nation’s past players which caused a division amongst the England fanbase, something that has only just been fixed via Southgate and his waistcoat’s presence on the touchline. It is, therefore, of no coincidence to locate where the majority of Rooney’s criticism is transcending from – a hostile fanbase who let their club loyalties cloud their judgement of the national team.
England vs USA
Football vs soccer. Pies vs hot dogs. Pints vs beer bottles. The battle of England vs USA certainly is an intriguing occasion and the two sides will be battling it out this Thursday 15th November at Wembley Stadium.
Having last locked horns during the 2010 World Cup, both nations have embarked upon different paths over the last eight years, with England finding their roar again, whilst the States have been less than impressive. After failing to qualify for this year’s World Cup, the nation has looked to Earnest Stewart to get their squad firing again – a squad that is severely lacking in quality.
Regardless of the result, the event will provide as a fitting send-off for Rooney, who will grace the Wembley pitch in an England shirt for the very last time. An incredible career is quickly coming to an end for the attacker and every fan should be on their feet, applauding the national hero, when he steps onto the field.
As an experienced sports writer, Josh has been published across various different platforms, writing about his beloved club Manchester United and other footballing topics. He also covers a range of other sports, specialising in UFC and Formula One.