Despite his striking numbers, Wayne Rooney has never truly helped England achieve anything noteworthy
The English Premier League is arguably the best football league in the world. But considering their wretched record in international tournaments, it seems that England’s national side never got the memo.
Every single stakeholder from England’s football governing body ‘The Football Association’ all the way down to the kit man could potentially be blamed for this malaise. One particular person, for the best part of the last decade, has had to bear the major brunt of it. And by the looks of it, this particular individual has had enough.
Wayne Mark Rooney announced his retirement last week. By doing so, he put an end to all the debate surrounding his negative influence of the England national side along with his patchy international football career.
It all started oh-so-brightly. Making his England debut on February 12, 2003, at the tender age of just 17, Rooney was the youngest footballer ever to wear the hallowed ‘Three Lions’ badge on his chest. Five months later, he scored the first of his 53 goals with England, against Former Yugoslav Republic (FYR) Macedonia, and in the process became England’s youngest ever scorer as well.
Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Euro 2004 in Portugal was when Rooney truly came of age. The continental tournament, or ‘Eu-roo 2004’ as the English media still likes to recall it, was the true making of ‘Wazza’ as he lit up the international stage by scoring four goals. This might sound a tad too bizarre now, but at that particular point in time, Rooney was rated far more highly than Cristiano Ronaldo.
Had it not been for one of Ronaldo’s team mate’s challenge on Rooney that broke his metatarsal bone during the quarter final encounter between their respective sides, a lot of critics still believe that England would have gone on to lift the continental trophy led by the teenage prodigy.
It has, however, gone downhill on the international scene ever since then, with Rooney failing to live up to his potential as a once-a-generation talent. He has won 16 trophies with Manchester United, including five Premier League titles and a solitary Champions League Cup. But on the international stage, his poor performance can be summed up by the fact that ever since his four goals in Euro 2004 alone, Rooney has only scored three more goals in all of the subsequent tournaments he has played with England.
You might argue that his record as England's all-time leading goal-scorer with 53 goals earns him a legendary status within the game. But the sad reality is that none of those goals contributed anything more than mere participation in international tournaments for his country.
Despite his weak impact on the international stage, he was trusted by five different England managers. But the penny finally dropped under the sixth one when Gareth Southgate first dropped him from the national squad last autumn. Later, Rooney was omitted from the side in March 2017 for a friendly against arch-rivals Germany and thus started an individual thought process that ended last week with the former skipper officially retiring from international football.
The 31-year-old in an official statement claims that he was asked by England’s Southgate to be involved in the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovakia.
“It was great Gareth Southgate called me this week to tell me he wanted me back in the England squad for the upcoming matches. I really appreciated that. However, having already thought long and hard, I told Gareth that I had now decided to retire for good from international football.”
Rooney also admits how his association with the national side was never a match made in heaven.
“I will always remain a passionate England fan. One of my very few regrets is not to have been part of a successful England tournament side. Hopefully, the exciting players Gareth is bringing through can take that ambition further and I hope everyone will get behind the team.”
Despite his eye-catching numbers, Rooney has never truly helped England achieve anything noteworthy. And the bitter-sweet part of it is the fact that these very stats are the only legacy he leaves behind on the international stage.
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