Wayne Rooney, a long-time server of club and country, recently achieved an incredible feat by equalling Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time goalscoring record for the England national team.
The Manchester United captain and striker scored his 49th goal for his country in England’s riot of San Marino last Saturday.
Rooney scored the first of six that dismissed their opposition, ranked 193rd in the FIFA World Rankings, with youngster Ross Barkley, Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Theo Walcott all chipping in with goals.
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England's 6-0 mauling of Pierangelo Manzaroli's side booked the Three Lions’ spot at the European Championships in France next summer, which will leave the whole country once again pondering the chances of challenging for the title, after many dismal performances at recent competitions.
And Rooney, who was subbed in the 58th minute against San Marino, said he was “honoured” to be held in the same regard as the England legend and World Cup winner, Sir Bobby Charlton.
“To be level with Sir Bobby is a huge honour, a great moment and I am very proud of it," he told BBC Radio 5 live.
"Hopefully I will surpass that and become the outright leader."
The Scouse-born striker made his England debut back in 2003, aged just 17 years and 111 days old, in a friendly defeat against Australia at the Boleyn Ground (Upton Park).
The country has ever-since had high expectations for Rooney and to some extent he has met these expectations, though criticism remains that Rooney has been unable to influence in the bigger games.
Nobody in the sport can take this achievement away from the Red Devil’s striker, though, it's a truly remarkable record to take. However, having only ever scored one goal for England at a FIFA World Cup, during the their abysmal performance in Brazil last summer, one does wonder if Rooney was to surpass Sir Bobby’s record, would he have truly earned it?
Many England fans may find it frustrating for the 29-year-old to be on the verge of passing a true great such as Sir Bobby Charlton because of the lack of success that Rooney has brought to England, having failed to reach the quarter-finals at a World Cup since Germany in 2006.
Charlton, on the other hand, has long been hailed amongst former team-mates, players and fans as England’s greatest ever player, with very few able to argue against that. Many have come close over the years - Paul Gascoigne (Gazza) being one of them - but the former United midfielder was in a league of his own.
The Manchester United legend scored three goals in the run up to England's 1966 World Cup triumph amongst a number of other important goals - a fair share coming from outside of the box using his explosive left foot.
Both Rooney and Charlton have scored magnificent goals throughout their careers - Rooney’s memorable bicycle kick against City comes to mind - but in terms of goals of importance for England, only Sir Bobby Charlton can claim that accolade.
There is no questioning that Rooney will join the likes of David Beckham, Gary Lineker and Gascoigne as a legend of English football with the contributions he has made and commitments he has shown, but unfortunately for Rooney, he will just fall short in comparison to Charlton due to his lack of success. Next summer's European Championships might prove to be Rooney's last chance to cement himself amongst the greatest, rather than just one of many greats.
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