Wayne Rooney fully deserving of final England cap
The decision made by the FA to award England’s all-time leading goalscorer a 120th and final cap against the USA tomorrow evening certainly came out of the blue. And it has been the source of much debate among ex-players, managers and fans alike despite thirteen years of loyal service, 119 caps and a record 53 goals for his country. But why?
It could be argued because it’s Wayne Rooney who has never been truly appreciated by England supporters. And perhaps never will.
To be fair, it couldn’t have started any better for the kid who burst onto the Premier League scene at 16 years of age and was making his senior England debut just a few months later.
The old adage of being the ‘closest player we’ve seen since Gazza’ was bandied around at a fair rate with Rooney the country’s new superstar for whom we’d all pin our hopes on for the next decade.
At first, he could seemingly do no wrong, becoming the youngest player to ever score for England (at the time) at 17 years and 317 days in a Euro 2004 qualifier against Macedonia.
He then proceeded to take that particular finals by storm in Portugal, displaying every inch the fearless teenager with several eye-catching performances and four goals, the two against Croatia in the last 16 especially memorable.
“I remember the England fans in the crowd behind the goal going crazy when he scored. They knew what a gem we had" (John Motson)
It was all going swimmingly well until an injury sustained in the quarter finals versus the hosts put pay to Rooney’s involvement, and that of England too.
And as we all know, England’s tournament record in the era of Rooney never improved much beyond this, a fact constantly laid at the feet of the former captain.
But is he the only skipper or player to not win a major trophy with England through his career? I believe not.
And does his unrivalled goals record, level of consistency and years of service at the highest level not at least show Rooney as a class above anything this country has ever produced? You’d have to say, yes.
The reason most are so against the notion of honouring Rooney boils down to his association with an era of underachievement for the national side. It's the stick he is regularly beat with, yet is this something that can be attributed to just one individual? There's only one answer to that.
But for some there has to be a scapegoat and for many it's Wayne Rooney.
The numbers are quickly disregarded because his goals were against so called ‘lesser’ teams and there are certainly players with better goal to game ratios, of that there is no debate.
Nonetheless, to have the hunger and the continued desire to go and claim the all-time record should be commended.
If it was so easy for players to score bundles of goals on the international stage, why has Bobby Charlton’s record of 49 goals stood for 45 years?
The answer to the debate lies here.
It’s not everyday such a record is broken and so, quite rightly, the achievement should be recognised and celebrated.
Perhaps when it takes another 45 years for the record to be beaten, we will all come to fully appreciate the efforts of Wayne Rooney in an England shirt.