For far too long now English football has been a vastly overrated commodity. I’m not talking about the standard of the Premier League, or the quality of players who fill the domestic leagues from the grassroots up, I’m talking about the way England stars are celebrated, rising youngsters are heralded as potential world-beaters and an in-form player instantly becomes one of the best in the world.
It’s one of the many factors which contributes to why fans expect so much of the national team, and, as a consequence, why supporters are aggrieved when the Three Lions don’t do the business when it comes to crunch time.
In the past decade or so England have had very few players who will be remembered for their service in the same vein as the likes of Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore, Paul Gascoigne and Gary Lineker.
David Beckham will go down in the history books as an inspired leader, Michael Owen might be mentioned here and there in passing as a player who at one stage had the world at his feet, but aside from that the so-called ‘golden generation’ of English football produced far less yield than their bountiful harvest promised.
One man who will certainly find his name in the annals of English footballing folklore, regardless of his recent comments about having to do what no captain has done since 1966, is Wayne Rooney.
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As is so often the case with high-profile players the former Everton starlet has his fair share of critics and doubters. There are those who call his consistency into question, those who lambast his attitude and those who point to his failure to have stats comparable with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as a genuine flaw.
Make no mistake about it though; Rooney is a great for both club and country, and by the time he hangs up his boots, however far down the line that might be, he will be in the ‘legend’ category. In many ways he has become a victim of his own early success, and so often do his abilities and influence slip under the radar because it’s what people expect from him.
Issues with his stardom
The shock and awe factor with Rooney began to disappear the moment he bagged a hat-trick on his debut for United, and now, rightly or wrongly, he is constantly under pressure to be the star of the show week in, week out.
Aside from his general form though the forward has every chance of making history for club and county. At the time of writing he stands a mere seven goals away from becoming the highest international goalscorer to have ever played for England, and it’s with little doubt that one can assume he will break a record which has stood since Charlton finished playing.
49 is the winning tally and with Rooney on 43 at the age of 29, the 50 mark is more than within his reach; it’s sitting firmly in his grasp.
On top of that he could very well become the most-capped player in England’s history as well, with his next appearance set to see him become a centurion well ahead of the usual schedule. Then there’s his United status to contemplate, which virtually already sees him consigned to the club’s history books alongside former teammates Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes.
Becoming the legend
Providing no shock move in engineered the current Red Devils captain can beat another Charlton record; this one set to see him become the highest goalscorer at arguably the most famous club in the country. His whole life he has been defying the numbers achieved by the great players before him, so it’s only right that we predict he can do the same with this particular case.
As history will dictate Rooney will continue to harbour his naysayers well into his retirement; those unwilling to accept that he lived up to his billing, and those who simply reject the idea that he was ever truly world-class in the first place.
To these people a little line of advice can be offered; English football is overrated, and whilst he’s not going to be considered a legend on the level of Pele and Diego Maradona, he’s certainly going to be a legend to those who have followed the teams he has played for.