Wayne Rooney must deliver at Euro 2016 to become an England legend

Published Add your comment

Wayne Rooney made history on Tuesday night by converting from the penalty spot to score his 50th international goal and become England's all-time record goalscorer.

The Manchester United forward surpassed Sir Bobby Charlton's record of 49 which had stood for 45 years. Many had tried and failed to beat the World Cup winner's achievement, but it's a fellow United man who has finally done it.

Rooney has deservedly grabbed all the headlines - to score a half century of goals at international level is a fantastic achievement regardless of the opposition he's faced in the last 12 years - and yet despite the 29-years-old achievement, many have still questioned him.


Want to become a GMS writer? Sign up now and submit a 250 word test article:

Article continues below

The statistics speak for themselves - scoring 50 goals should not warrant further questioning of his status as an England great - but the reality is that Rooney is not quite a legend. There's a difference.

Some have branded Rooney as England's 'greatest ever goalscorer' this week, namely ex-captain John Terry, which has naturally led to debate. Perhaps the phrasing is wrong - to call him the nation's most prolific would be more appropriate.

Article continues below

After all, the likes of Jimmy Greaves, Gary Lineker and Michael Owen all have superior strike rates for their country, while Charlton was primarily a midfielder. Therefore, each can stake a claim as England's 'greatest' goalscorer.

Love him or hate him, though, Rooney will go down in English folklore after breaking this record, but to brand him a 'legend' would be a hasty move. It's a term that's tossed around far to often these days when it should be reserved for the creme de la creme.

Let's face it, Rooney will never be remembered as one of the game's greatest ever talents, but he could still go down as an England legend.

The 29-year-old has a place in England history, but we cannot forget that this is a man who has disappointed on so many occasions at tournament level. This is the only thing standing between him and legendary status - he simply has to deliver at a European Championship or World Cup.

He may have an outstanding goalscoring record but break down that 50 and you'll see that just six have come at tournament finals. He's a reliable player in qualification, though, as shown by his total of 30 goals in Euro and World Cup qualifiers, but ultimately disappoints on the big stage.

Not since Euro 2004 have we seen the real Rooney at a major tournament. That year he broke onto the scene with four goals at the tournament, but since has only notched up two in eleven years. His 2006 World Cup ended with a red card for appearing to stamp on Ricardo Carvalho's groin in the quarter-final defeat to Portugal.

Four years later in South Africa and he once again failed to deliver, along with the rest of the team, and went as far as to launch a rant about the nation's supporters following a draw to Algeria. At Euro 2012, he missed the opening two games due to suspension and although he found the net against Ukraine, his overall performance levels simply weren't good enough.

Last year's World Cup is still very much fresh in the memory of England fans. The finals in Brazil saw Rooney score his first ever World Cup goal in what ended in a group stage defeat to Uruguay. His performances at that tournament were not quite as bad as his previous two but for a player of his quality England fans were entitled to demand more.

Each and every England 'legend' can boast a defining moment in their international career. Paul Gascoigne shed tears at Italia '90 following elimination from the semi-finals; Stuart Pearce achieved redemption at Euro '96; Beckham sent the Three Lions to the 2002 World Cup with a late free-kick against Greece; and Sir Bobby Moore and Charlton steered England to their sole World Cup triumph in 1966.

As of yet Wayne Rooney hasn't delivered 'that moment'. If, at the end of his England career, the moment he's remembered for is a spot kick against Switzerland, that won't be enough for him to be deemed a legend.

Thankfully, Rooney still has time on his side. He's still only 29-years-old and could realistically play at the top for another five years. If fit, he will undoubtedly be on the plane to France next summer and Euro 2016 will be a massive tournament for the forward, but could well be his last chance - by the time Russia 2018 comes around he'll be 32-years-old and Harry Kane and Daniel Sturridge, amongst others, will be banging on the door.

It wouldn't be an exaggeration, therefore, to say that Euro 2016 stands between Rooney and England legendary status - if he under-performs he may well never get another chance. This is why it's crucial that he delivers next summer.

The striker will go to the finals as the team's most experienced player and this time he will have the responsibility of wearing the captain's armband.

Rooney has carried the nation's hopes on his shoulders for the best part of a decade now and so far he's crumbled under the pressure. England will look to him for inspiration once again next year and it's high time he stepped up to the plate. Winning Euro 2016 is nothing more than a fantasy, but Rooney as an individual can make sure that he goes out on a high, and he must do so if he wants to join the immortals.

Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE:

England Football
Wayne Rooney

Article Comments

Report author of article

Please let us know if you believe this article is in violation of our editorial policy, please only report articles for one of the following reasons.

Report author


This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

Want more content like this?

Like our GiveMeSport Facebook Page and you will get this directly to you.

Already Subscribed to Facebook, don't ask me again

Follow GiveMeSport on Twitter and you will get this directly to you.

Already Following, don't ask me again

Like our GiveMeSport Page and you will get this directly to you.

Already Subscribed to G+, don't ask me again