Wayne Rooney was the teenage sensation who burst onto the scene with a mesmerising goal against a shocked Arsenal side and a despairing David Seaman.
England fans had found their new hope and were left wondering if they'd finally unearthed a talent capable of handing them a major international trophy.
After Wayne Rooney’s Roy of the Rovers goal, things moved incredibly quickly for the 17-year-old from Croxeth. He became the youngest player for England, breaking James Prinsep's 124-year-old record -only for that record to be broken by Luke Shaw this summer -, he was the youngest player to score for England and before he knew it he was the captain of England.
The international career of Rooney has had its highs, and notable lows, but as he continues to write himself into the record books the question remains; should Rooney have already broken Bobby Charlton’s record?
Rooney really burst onto the scene for England in Euro 2004, when an almost perfect partnership with Michael Owen and a brace against a good Croatian side laid down his credentials.
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However, the then-young forward picked up an injury which meant he missed the rest of the tournament, which meant so did England, as they were dumped out by Portugal on penalties. With England missing out on Euro 2008 the world was missing out on Rooney, who was in a rich vein of form as he struck up an almighty partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez.
United won the double, Rooney scored 18 goals in all competitions and England missed out on the ability to go to a major tournament with arguably the most in-form forward in the world.
Euro 2012 was bittersweet for Rooney, as he was suspended after a ludicrous kick out on Montenegro defender Dzudovic. This meant him missing the first two games of the group stage. He did, however, pop up with a goal, albeit a bit scruffy, but he lacked sharpness against Italy in the knockout game and was non-existent during most of the fixture. Overall, Rooney at the Euros has managed five goals, which is impressive and he will be looking to build on it at France 2016.
Rooney played all games at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, but both World Cups were surrounded with controversy as Rooney was sent off in the quarter finals against Portugal for a stamp on Portuguese centre half Ricardo Carvalho. Rooney also failed to control himself in South Africa as he ranted to a camera at the end of an appalling, monotonous 0-0 draw with Algeria.
If you look back at Rooney’s World Cup record it is not impressive whatsoever for a player of his standing, with the United star managing just one goal in eleven appearances for the Three Lions. The robust striker only managed to break his World Cup duct against Uruguay this summer.
The fact that a record-breaking forward has only scored one goal in eleven appearances at three World Cups is astonishing. How has he scored 44 goals since his debut but not on the major World stage? The answer is friendlies and European Championship qualifiers.
There is nothing wrong with scoring an abundance of goals in qualifying games, as these are the goals you need to get you to the major tournaments. However, considering the incredibly poor opponents England have played over the years you would have expected Rooney to have passed Charlton’s record a long time ago.
With all due respect to teams such as San Marino, Kazakhstan, Andorra, Macedonia, Estonia and Azerbaijan, Rooney should have scored more or even just scored one against these opponents.
As stated before Rooney had the world at his feet when he scored against Arsenal. However, he has also had the nation’s expectations on his shoulders.
He will no doubt break Charlton’s record in the next few games for England, but the major test will be if he can prove to be England’s most prolific striker come France 2016 and Russia 2018 if he is still playing for the national team.
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