Wayne Rooney is probably one of the best paid players in the Premier League today. However, the disrespect and ingratitude shown towards him lately, both by United fans and England fans, has been, in my mind, a little shameful.
Wayne exploded onto the scene in 2002 with Everton , a sixteen year old street fighter. He first came to prominence when he slammed home a vicious last minute shot for the Toffees, ending Arsenal’s 30-game unbeaten run. It was probably at that moment that Fergie decided he needed such a young talent at Old Trafford, and in the summer of 2004, he made the move to sign him for £25.6 million. Fast forward to today and Rooney has amassed a total of 247 goals for United – three behind breaking Sir Bobby’s record – as well as being England’s top scorer of all-time with 53 goals.
On his home debut against tomorrow’s opponents Fenerbahçe, he scored a hat-trick, and since then, has littered the Premier league with spectacular goals. Particularly memorable were the thunderbolt against Newcastle in 2005, his derby-winning overhead kick in 2011 and that crazy lob from the half way line against West Ham in 2014. And there have been plenty more.
Let’s also not forget his many fantastic assists. Just recently, Robin van Persie’s first time volley against Aston Villa in 2013 was voted the best goal of the Premier League so far, but not much has been said about Rooney’s fabulous 50 yard cross-field pass that set RVP up to score.
Even during his recent lowest moments as a United player, against Hull away in August, he skipped past Ahmed Elmohamady along the bi-line to square for Rashford to score, bringing us victory in the 94th minute when a captain’s lead was needed.
It’s not always been sweetness and light, of course; some of his histrionics have let both United and England down on occasion, but he has grown up since then and these days shows a restraint reflecting his many years of playing at the top level in world football. Many United and England players talk of his influence in the dressing room, his pre-match talks and half time instructions belie a player thought only to be a thug or a mercenary.
His experience on and off the field can only benefit the younger members of the squad itching to make their name at Old Trafford. Even when he requested a transfer in 2010, which caused such consternation across the spectrum of fans, his reasons were that he felt that United and the board were not investing in the future enough and resting on their laurels. History has proven he wasn’t so far wrong. His fall out with Ferguson in 2013 was due to not wanting play in midfield; he felt he deserved to be played as a striker. In 2009/10, after Tevez and Ronaldo left, he scored 26 goals, and in 2011/12, before van Persie was signed, he scored 28. Just cause to ask why he was not recognised as United’s striker!
Here is a player that has given his best years to United. He took a back seat when Ronaldo was taking all the plaudits, and again with van Persie with not a word of complaint or jealousy. Even now, demoted to the bench, he sits and smiles and cheers when United score, no histrionics, no complaints, only an understanding of the manager’s reasons and the understanding he is not what he once was.
How sad to see him being booed at Wembley recently, and to hear the “Einsteins”, as Mourinho called them, denigrate Rooney, suggesting he should move to the USA or China. Even with all his wealth and the glut of medals, we must not forget that perhaps, along with Michael Carrick, he is one of the last of his kind we’ll see at Old Trafford. We should cherish his last years as we’ll probably not see the like again.