Just when you thought England’s defeat to Iceland couldn’t get any more embarrassing, footage has emerged of Three Lions captain Wayne Rooney lashing out with an elbow at Swansea midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Just when England fans thought their team might have turned a corner, the fairytale of Euro 2016 was halted abruptly; the England players regressing into the national side of old, with no leaders, no game-plan and Wayne Rooney assuming the role of the petty thug.
Rooney has always harboured a reputation for malice and an angry temperament, but as the Manchester United man gradually matured, it looked for a moment that he was actually beginning to mellow. Rooney was no longer running around the pitch like an enraged bull, kicking lumps out of anyone who had upset him, he was a role model to the younger players, a calm head on an old veteran’s shoulders.
But if you scratch Wayne Rooney’s surface ever so slightly, the glossy finish peels away and you’re left with what’s always been underneath:
Rooney was fortunate not to be sent off against Iceland – what kind of example is he supposed to be setting as England captain, deliberately elbowing an opponent in front of the referee? The incident occurred within the final moments of Rooney’s contribution and probably didn’t go unnoticed by Roy Hodgson.
It’s probable that Hodgson only substituted Rooney out of fear of his captain losing his temper and getting sent off – this would certainly explain why Rashford entered the fray so unfeasibly late on in proceedings. It’s not the first time Rooney has let his country down due to a lack of discipline. During the last game of England’s Euro 2012 qualifying, Rooney was sent off for lashing out at a Montenegro defender, he then missed the first game of England’s group stages:
A brace against Estonia at Wembley may well be met with polite applause, but in major tournaments Rooney has done nothing but underperform and embarrass his country. The only positive from the dark chapter of Euro 2016 is that, much like everything else Rooney did against Iceland, Sigurdsson saw it coming well in advance.