After his homecoming return to his boyhood club Everton, Wayne Rooney announces his retirement from the national team, but how will his legacy be remembered?
All time England and Manchester United top-goalscorer Wayne Rooney, announced his retirement from England on Wednesday afternoon. As it may have to come to a bit of a shock, many feel that it was the right time for the 31-year old as he looks to put all his efforts into his club football for Everton. His recent rejuvenation since leaving United, by scoring 2 goals in his first 2 games this season, it looked as if that could re-spark his involvement in the national team as they look to qualify for next summers world cup in Russia. Rooney’s original plan was to retire from International duties after the tournament but has since gone against that decision to fully focus on Everton.
Despite beating Bobby Charlton’s goal record for England and setting a new record of 53 goals, he may not share the same status as Bobby Charlton whose goal record he broke for club and country. Charlton’s achievement of a World Cup winner has only shared between 11 Englishmen, and without any similar success, Rooney cannot stand on the same pedestal. His record is in the history books and cannot be erased, no one can take away his great achievement, however you always had the feeling Rooney could’ve, should’ve done more.
“Most players would be cautious in the run up to their first start. Not Wazza. He charged into Slaley Hall (England’s old training ground) trying all sorts of skills. Nothing fazes Wazza. It’s a Scouse trait.” – Steven Gerrard talking about Rooney’s first training session with England when he was just 17
When he burst onto the scene at 17 years of age, the youngest player to make an England debut at the time, he looked like the breath of fresh air England needed to challenge for international success. His performances during the 2004 Euros in Portugal stood out, and he was the talk of the tournament. He was a phenomenon and his name was on everyone’s lips.
Unfortunately, what was such a promising tournament campaign, ended in misery for Rooney, as he broke his foot early on in the quarter final against Portugal; which unsurprisingly England went on to lose on penalties. Many thought if it weren’t for Rooney’s injury, England would have gone on to win the tournament, however his prodigious rise in Portugal sent expectations through the roof, his explosive blend of power, awareness, and potency in front of goal made people believe that soon enough, the long wait for an international trophy for England would end.
Sadly as we all know, the trophy cabinet hasn’t been touched and not only has it gone beyond Rooney, but a whole generation of top players like Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes and David Beckham; the so called ‘golden generation’ could not bring their consistently brilliant club form on the International stage. Rooney’s legacy on the international stage will always be tainted with disappointment and failure.
Not fully fit, and sent off in another quarter final defeat to Portugal in the World Cup in 2006 and a stand out symbol of frustration felt inside the ‘camp Capello; in South Africa 2010. His frustrations flooded out in front of the cameras after an embarrassing 0-0 draw with Algeria when he fired criticism towards England supporters, before being thrashed 4-1 against Germany in the knockout stages. An international career which started with such prosperity and excitement ended in frustration and disappointment, it just never happened for him on the big stage since the Euros in 2004.
Rooney missed the start of the Euro’s in 2012 due to suspension and despite being one of the few better performers at both the World Cup in 2014 and the Euros in 2016, both were met with familiar outcomes of humiliation; not reaching the knockout stages and THAT defeat to Iceland. It’s almost as if the harder Rooney tried, the more international success evaded him, and when people look back, they’d remember the catalogue of those let-downs.
However, becoming England’s leading goalscorer is something that can’t be taken away from him anytime soon and I think everyone will remember him for his commitment and love for the game. He’d happily go out his own way for the benefit of the team. Whenever the case to drop him from the squad an ever occurring debate on whether England would be better without him, would crop up and very rarely would the answer be yes.
Almost all England players spoke highly of his presence in the dressing room. His work rate was astounding, one of his many traits; he’d often crop up in areas of the field where he not as effective but fuelled by his passion to win, something that sometimes caused his eruptive temperament to boil over.
He may not have played a part in ending England’s longly awaited trophy and he may be looked at as ‘what could’ve been’ and may have fallen short of what was expected of him on the international stage but he deserves great respect and admiration, a fine player and what he has achieved is a good enough reason to regard him as one of the best players to represent England.