Wayne Rooney will remember Tuesday, September 8 2015 for the rest of his life.
A weight lifted, an expectation fulfilled, the hopes of a nation realised (kind of). Call it what you like, Rooney becoming England’s all-time leading goalscorer was a joy to behold here at Wembley tonight.
Roy Hodgson’s decision to substitute the forward against San Marino so that he could break Bobby Charlton’s long record on English soil was vindicated when the 29-year-old cannoned home a penalty around five minutes from the end against Switzerland.
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And yet, though the United man will be the toast of the country tomorrow and his name will be eternally carved into the record books, there is a bone that can be picked with him.
Overrated in an England shirt?
After all, the man himself has admitted in the past that his final goal tally in England colours would be negated if he were to win a major international trophy.
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Strikers with less than half the goals Rooney boasts on the world stage have struck gold with their respective nations; that alone should resonate enough to serve as motivation.
A look at Rooney’s goals for England - and yes, there have been plenty - offers an abundance of moments, but few magical ones. How many of the Manchester United star’s international strikes can fans recall as being special? Not many, unfortunately.
In fact, and it is slightly harsh to go into such fine print, Rooney’s major tournament goal tally stands at a poultry five. He bagged four in Euro 2004, whilst he managed just one at the World Cup in Brazil last year.
That’s just five goals when in the business end of international football. James Rodriguez notched more than that on his own in one tournament last year.
Rooney's goal haul
Now, it’s unfair to suggest that Rooney isn’t deserved of praise for his feats for England thus far, he is. However, it’s also unfair to neglect the fact that he’s scored a healthy portion of his goals against teams England would expect to comfortably best. Three against Kazakhstan, five against San Marino, two against Andorra… you get the picture.
My point, as unpatriotic at it seems, is that Rooney could score 100 goals in an England shirt. If he doesn’t help England to a major trophy then is it any better than 10 in the grand scheme of things?
Next year represents arguably Rooney’s last chance to write himself into English folklore via the production of a show on the highest stage that he’s proven himself capable of creating of in the past.
By the time Euro 2016 swings around the former Everton man will be 30. It will be interesting to see how many international tournaments he has in him after that whilst still being registered as a key player.
In any case, Rooney himself is well aware of the expectation. His form so far for his country has been echoed by the team as a whole; relentless in qualifying, then utterly flat once the tournament proper arrives.
Leaving a legacy
He’s done enough via simply putting the ball in the back of the net over and over again to ensure that he’ll be remembered in England’s pantheon of greats for a long time yet.
So long as the majority of men standing in that hall haven’t won silverware in England colours, it’s a rather hollow victory all things considered.
England fans, do you think Rooney deserves to be remembered as a Three Lions legend? Let us know in the comments box below.