ROONEY | The Golden Boy
(Posted on 10/08/17)
Once in a generation every great footballing nation produces a world beater, a superstar of the highest order who becomes the poster boy for millions, in the last decade England’s has gone from the humble streets of Liverpool playing on the side of a road to becoming a champion and one of the world’s elite strikers.
Following a rapid rise through the youth ranks at Goodison Park, new manager David Moyes told a 16-year old Rooney that he’d be with the first team. Having made his debut in August 2002 he finally scored in the October, five days before his 17th birthday. It was a screamer against Arsenal making the youngster the youngest ever Premier League goalscorer. What made this even more incredible was the way he celebrated that night, too young to go out with his team mates he went back to his estate and played football with his friends.
Having bean scoring regularly for the Toffees, Rooney was called up to the England National Team in 2003 and made his debut against Australia becoming the youngest ever England player. His first goal came in September 2003 against Macedonia where he also became the youngest ever England goalscorer.
Rooney was shattering records left right and centre but the best was still to come for England’s brightest young talent. He helped England on to qualification for the 2004 European Championship’s in Portugal and was selected by Sven Gorran Eriksson. Rooney was unstoppable that summer as he tore sides apart with pace and power, scoring four times in the lead up to the Quarter-Final against the host nation, but Rooney’s tournament was cut short when he was forced off the pitch through injury and was forced to watch the rest of the match in a Portuguese hospital.
But that summer changed his life as Everton began losing a grip on their prize asset with some of the biggest clubs in the world swooping in for the hottest property in the game. Rooney, as history shows, chose Manchester United who at the time were perhaps one piece away from being the best in the world and he had the task of being that final addition.
Some players join big clubs and struggle, many disappear in games like smoke in the wind, but when Rooney stepped out to play for United for the first time against Fenerbache in the UEFA Champions League, it was a frightening introduction. At 18 the talent scored a wonderful hatrick to burst himself onto the global scene.
He’d become indispensable for both club and country and ahead of the 2006 World Cup he broke his foot in a game against Chelsea, the nation held its breath. Eriksson took him to Germany to compete in the competition against the wishes of Sir Alex Ferguson and you could tell at times he lacked the sharpness and form for a major tournament having been out for six weeks. All of this came to a head when England met Portugal in yet another Quarter-Final match-up between the two sides.
Battling away, Rooney doesn’t shy out of a challenge, and when battling with Ricardo Carvaliho he stepped on the defender’s groin. Following a fracas Rooney was sent-off, made worse by the fact that United team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo was a big factor in swaying the referee’s decision having been caught on camera winking to a team-mate. Rooney was off, and on penalties Ronaldo got the winner, England were out.
Over the next two years Rooney experienced some extreme highs and lows for both club and country. In November 2007 Rooney and England failed to reach Euro 2008 having lost in a qualifier to Croatia, their first time not at a major tournament since 1994. But just six months later Rooney would perhaps have his greatest moment for his club.
With the Red Devils Rooney had already sealed the Premier League title, scoring 12 league goals and linking up as an integral part of the ‘two Ronnies’ with Cristiano Ronaldo. Nine years without an appearance in the Champions League Final, United met Chelsea in Moscow. Ronaldo headed United in front before Frank Lampard pulled the blues level. On penalties it was the side from Manchester who took the honours.
His partner left but Rooney remained on course for legendary status. With England he continued to score goals and with United he continued to secure trophies. His repuatation and attitude was put into question once more in 2010 at the World Cup in South Africa. Following a 0-0 draw with Algeria he was seen and heard shouting ‘Good to see your own fans boo you’. England were knocked out in the Round of 16 by Germany and Rooney failed to score in the competition.
Major tournaments began looking a million miles off for Rooney and England as it looks like he may add his name to the list of great players never to lift international silverware. In 2012 the Three Lions were dumped out of the Euro’s by Italy whilst at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil they finished bottom of the group with just a point from a goalless draw with Costa Rica.
In 2015 Rooney wrote himself into the history books, having matched Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of 49 England goals he finally scored his 50th goal to beat the record against Switzerland at Wembley. With times at United harder due to the departure of Ferguson in 2013, Rooney began falling out of favour under Louis van Gaal and later Jose Mourinho. But he remained England captain and was leading the side out at Euro 2016.
England finished second in the group behind Wales and played Iceland in what looked like a breeze. But Rooney’s 4th minute penalty to open the scoring was all they had to cheer about as the tournament underdogs went on to score twice and knock England out in an utter humiliation.
In the year following Rooney played his last season with United, having finally won the FA Cup a year before he went on to seal the Community Shield, League Cup and the Europa League – a strange treble but a final season packed with silverware.
He has now returned to Everton in a move much anticipated by all sides. Everton fans who felt betrayed over a decade ago have long forgotten and blue Roo now has the chance to end his final few seasons in style by bagging a trophy or two at Goodison Park, it’s got all the potential for a fairy-tale ending to a dream career.
Not bad for a lad from Croxteth.
(Approx $53 / €45)
(Approx $59 / €51)
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