England’s golden boy has transcended into legendary status with his national side, against the United States on Thursday, Wayne Rooney was given his farewell match. In what was an atypical send off, he came on as a substitute for Jesse Lingard in the 58th minute. Rooney contributed to what was a comfortable 3-0 win for the Three Lions. He looked for goal a few times, only for his shot to be snuffed out by USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan. It was a bittersweet farewell to say the least. Fans will be sad to see their greatest goalscorer of all time depart; however, fans can only be pleased with the progress the young England squad has made, after reaching the World Cup semifinals in the summer. As the legend that is Wayne Rooney officially leaves the international scene, we will take a look at his glistening international career.
EARLY INTERNATIONAL CAREER
At the age of 16, Rooney had the opportunity to represent either England or the Republic of Ireland, his motive for choosing the Three Lions goes back to his English roots which made him ‘English through and through’, as he would describe. Rooney became England’s youngest ever players at 17 years and 111 days in February 2003 in a friendly defeat to Australia. The next year he then became England’s youngest ever goalscorer in a UEFA Euro 2004 qualifying match, equalizing the score in a 2-1 victory against Macedonia. Following England’s qualification in the EURO 2004, Rooney scored 4 goals in 4 matches before crashing out in the quarter-finals against a strong Portugal side. His strong performances led to his inclusion in the UEFA Team of the Tournament, beginning his legendary status to come.
Wayne Rooney featured in 3 World Cups with the Three Lions, appearing in the 2006, 2010 and 2014 editions. In the 2006 World Cup, Rooney was in a race with time to be fit in time for the tournament. A rushed recovery looked to come back to bite him after going scoreless in the tournament and crashing out in the quarter-finals on penalties. His most iconic moment of the tournament was a red card he received for stepping on Portugal defender Ricardo Carvalho. In what was a non-cynical challenge, protests from then-teammate Cristiano Ronaldo to the referee seemed to persuade the issuing of a red card.
Leading up to the 2010 World Cup qualification, Rooney was handed captaincy for the first time in a match against Brazil in 2009. In the World Cup qualification, Rooney was second on the goalscorers chart with 9 tallies to his name. The 2010 was disappointing for Rooney as he once again went scoreless as the Three Lions were eliminated in just the second round following a 4-1 defeat to Germany (Remember Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal?).
In what would be his final World Cup, the qualification for the 2014 edition in Brazil saw him lead England scorers with 7 goals to his name. England ended up finishing last in their group but Rooney contributed to both of England’s goals in the tournament, teeing up Daniel Sturridge in the opening match before notching one in himself against Uruguay.
The EURO 2012 campaign was disappointing for Rooney. After a promising qualification, Rooney was banned for the first 2 group stage matches but scored the only goal in the final group stage match. England were then knocked out by Italy in penalties. Although Rooney slotted his spot-kick, his performances in a major tournament were once again criticized.
The EURO 2016 campaign marked Rooney’s first as permanent England captain following Steven Gerrard’s retirement from international football. The EURO tournament was once again a disappointment for England, as Rooney was a lone bright spot after a man of the match performance in the opening match before scoring a penalty in a defeat in the following match. England eventually crashed out of the round of 16 stage in another disappointing major tournament
Rooney will not go down as England’s most influential player, but he dominated in an era that saw England’s golden generation fail to live up to expectations in major tournaments. He was the star in every qualifying campaign and ultimately sealed his spot at the top of England’s scoring charts for all time, hitting the back of the net 53 times in 120 appearances. A captain of his country that led by merit and example, Rooney will always remain a legend with England despite the disappointments in major tournaments.
Written by : Andrew Diefenderfer