Football is full of debates and opinions, we all know it – and that’s partly why we love it so much.
When it comes to English football fans, Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard is certainly one we’ve heard time and time again, but one that seems to be cropping up more and more, both with England fans and Manchester United ones, is whether Wayne Rooney is ‘world class’ or not.
The forward’s talent was evident right from the off, after he scored that wonder goal on his Everton debut as a teenager, prompting the famous quote by commentator Clive Tyldesley, ‘Remember the name, Wayne Rooney’.
After eventually securing a £20 million move to Manchester United, big things were expected of the forward for both club and his perennially underachieving country.
Eyebrows were raised about not only the price tag United paid for the player, but also quite if Rooney would be good enough to break into the United first team.
However, they were soon silenced, as Rooney bagged a hat-trick on his debut – in the Champions League no less. There literally was no better way to announce himself on the world stage.
Rooney is now England’s highest ever goalscorer, and has overtaken the great Sir Bobby Charlton, not to mention close competition by the prolific ‘own goals’.
Taking that into consideration, not to mention his achievements with Manchester United, it seems strange that people question how good he actually is – but they do, and many will tell you they do so rightly.
One major sticking point for his detractors is the sides he has scored against, and just how good they actually are.
If he’d made himself England’s all-time top scorer in Sir Bobby Charlton’s era, with the goal tally he’s got now, there’d be no doubts. But, in the modern game, the games come thick and fast against ‘lesser known’ sides.
That’s not even considering those like San Marino, a side Rooney has five goals against, given they really do stretch the tag of ‘professional football team’.
Rooney has netted four goals against Croatia and Switzerland, three against Kazakhstan, and two goals against 12 different nations ranging from Brazil to Belarus.
When it comes to the major tournaments, Rooney only managed his first England goal at a World Cup at the third attempt of trying, in 2014 after failing in 2006 and 2010.
Rooney is no stranger to injuries before and during major tournaments, not to mention red cards – we all remember that infamous Cristiano Ronaldo wink and Ricardo Carvalho rolling around clutching his crown jewels.
It is that, along with off the field scandals which have all threatened to derail his performances for England when the Three Lions have needed Rooney most.
In terms of his domestic performances, Rooney is now Manchester United skipper and has scored 185 goals – not too shabby really.
That leaves him sat in third position in terms of Premier League goalscoring records, just behind Andy Cole, and another 75 behind Alan Shearer, and it’s hard to dispute the notion that Rooney has made his mark on the Premier League.
Rooney’s position is also something his supporters will point to when trying to push the ‘world class’ argument.
Throughout his career, Rooney has often featured out wide, just behind the striker, and even in central midfield, so to score that amount of goals without being an out and out forward at times is impressive – although when you consider Frank Lampard, that argument diminishes slightly.
Critics can continue to argue that he hasn’t really done anything for England, but his goals single-handedly seem to get the nation to major tournaments, with few other players really replicating the form they show for their club when putting on the England shirt. *Cough, Steven Gerrard, Cough*
Looking at Rooney now, especially considering his performances for United this term and the fact that England now have Harry Kane to lead the line, you have to wonder if he would be better utilised as a number ten, just behind a centre forward.
Obviously Louis van Gaal might struggle to do this, considering Rooney is the only forward he has, but for England, it’s certainly an option.
Rooney has been playing top flight football for 13 years now, having broken through at the age of 16, and you cannot underestimate the impact that will have had on both his physical and mental ability. It is gruelling to be a top flight footballer.
Yes, you have all the riches in the world, but you also get a huge amount of scrutiny with that, and Rooney has featured on the front pages of tabloids almost as many times as the back. That is not ideal, and will have affected him – as England have seen.
For someone who has grown up and lived their life in the public eye, and gone from a guy who could hardly string two words together in an interview to becoming someone who leads their country out on the international stage – and makes rousing speeches in the dressing room, Rooney deserves credit.
On and off the field he has matured, and come on leaps and bounds, and at the end of the day, there are questions over the opponents he scores his goals against, but you’ve still got to score the goals to break the records, and that is exactly what the forward has done.