As Wayne Rooney prepares for another international break, and having just has his somewhat intimate documentary air in the UK, it seems clear the footballer remains perhaps the only figure in world football that divides opinion so widely.
Of course there are a number of ex-players and other figures that pretty much every follower of football agrees upon, Sepp Blatter is a good example. Cristiano Ronaldo is another – while everyone can agree that he is – or at least has been an unbelievable footballer, he is not exactly a likeable character.
But with Rooney the opinions suggest that he is not just widely disliked as a human being, but also discredited as a footballer. Much of this will always be because of who he plays for. Manchester United are the most popular club in the whole world, but because of that they are also the most hated by rival club’s followers. This hasn’t really helped Rooney in the popularity stakes.
Records & Achievements
But it’s most surprising that people criticise Rooney’s footballing ability. After all, this is a 29 year old that has scored the record number of goals for England, will undoubtedly do the same for Man Utd, is the captain of both those teams, has won every major honour going in British football, and has provided probably at least 10 of the top 100 most memorable Premier League moments. As a schoolboy on the playground, do you think that these achievements would be the dream of every single schoolboy? There’s a very good chance they would.
There have been many moments in Rooney’s career that have not helped. In particular, it is the massive impact that he made back in 2004 at the Euro’s, which he has never quite lived up to for England. That was a defining moment that would blight his international career forever, as the somewhat delusional English football fans expected that their team would win the World Cup, and he would do it himself for them. England are consistent under-performers in every major tournament. For Rooney to be singled out seems odd, when Lampard, Gerrard, in fact the majority of English footballers have never done it consistently on the international stage.
One thing that Rooney always does is put in 100% effort. He is off-colour sometimes (who isn’t?) and this season in particular he hasn’t played well, some might say he even looks a bit leggy, but those whose opinions really count, those who get paid to offer their insight and professionals within the game itself, all seem to have the same things to say about the Manchester United and England captain.
Messi on Rooney: “There are many special players, but nobody like him”
Ibrahimovic on Rooney: “The player I like is Wayne Rooney. For me, Rooney is a fantastic footballer. I can imagine him playing alongside me. He is himself; I think that is very important. That is one English player I like more than anyone.”
Ronaldo on Rooney: “He’s a fantastic boy and he helped me a lot when he came to join us in Manchester. I miss playing with him. Maybe in the future we will play together again. I have to say congratulations to him. I know how hard it is to be number one.”
Pele on Rooney: “He has patience, guts, and he plays nice football. If I have to select for my team, he will be in my team.”
Andy Gray on Rooney: “He is a wonderful team player and England should be delighted to have him.”
Xavi on Rooney: “He would have fitted into our style of play no problem, but Manchester United would never have wanted to let one of the best players in the world leave. He’s still the player who makes things happen for them.”
Thierry Henry on Rooney: “To play well for six months or a season in football is nothing. To do so for over a decade like Rooney is extraordinary. I know what it takes and it isn’t easy. Trust me, people talk about him outside of this country. In Spain and France, he is appreciated as a top, top player.’
While in England, they do love to put down those who have seen success; it’s a trait that is very much exclusive to that country. In Spain, France, Brazil, in fact in every other country across the world, those that have achieved success in their careers are celebrated, idolised and very much supported.
The English mentality is different, to say the least, but it is more than likely that the words of his peers will be the ones Rooney pays attention to, rather than the words of “Bill” down the pub or “Steve” from out the window of his white van