He did it. He finally did it; on Saturday, with a wonderful free-kick strike that would befit the breaking of any record in world football, Wayne Rooney became Manchester United‘s all-time leading goal-scorer with his 250th for the club, surpassing Sir Bobby Charlton.
In case some didn’t feel he already belonged in the category, that goal not only cemented his place as a United great, but as an English football great as well, adding to his record as the leading scorer for England’s national team.
The fact that some people don’t regard Rooney in quite the high esteem that his records demand, speaks volumes about his general perception among the public. His reputation has suffered a great deal down the years for various indiscretions and an apparently dull personality, but the aim of this is to highlight that there is more than meets the eye with Wayne Rooney.
His first moment in the limelight (maybe “limelight” makes it sound more glamorous than it is…) came as a 10-year-old when acting as a matchday mascot for Everton at Goodison Park. In a pre-match bit of fun, the brash youngster beat seasoned goalkeeper Neville Southall with a chip from 20 yards, apparently resorting in the latter calling him a “flash b*****d”. Rooney was never a mascot again, but perhaps that was the moment that he decided he will forever be trying that 20-yard chip.
To be honest, a whole host of stories from his formative years blow the idea that he is boring out of the water. He also used to ride a mini motorbike around his area of Liverpool without actually owning a licence, meaning police dodging became something of a forté. Then when he was 13, he successfully won a fight with someone three years his senior… Though maybe that story isn’t that surprising when you think about it.
His personality and fight were prominent in the football side of his life too. One obstacle with England Under-15s had then-coach Steve Rutter telling him he wasn’t good enough to play as a striker, shunting him out to the right wing despite Rooney’s requests. It’s fair to say that ‘Wazza’ had the last laugh.
In fact, within the next two years Rooney had – at the time – become the Premier League’s youngest goal-scorer and then gone on to star for England at Euro 2004, with the team’s hopes ultimately ending with him picking up a foot injury.
But he also made an impact away from the pitch at the Euros, with staff and team-mates alike simultaneously bemused and amused by Rooney insisting on watching – and singing along to – Oliver! every time he got a massage.
It was his form at Euro 2004 which helped persuade United to shell out a cool £25m on the 18-year-old, leaving behind a furious David Moyes – though that fury had nothing to do with Rooney pouring a bucket of cold water over him in the toilet. Moyes apparently never managed to work out who did that.
Darren Fletcher on Wayne Rooney at @theofficialFWA dinner: “He’s the ultimate team player. Strikers are usually selfish. Wayne is selfless.”
— Oliver Kay (@OliverKayTimes) January 22, 2017
Rooney perhaps mellowed out a little after his switch to Uni… Actually, not really. Perhaps United were just better at keeping things quiet than Everton ever were.
But Rio Ferdinand certainly let the world in on Rooney’s temperament while playing FIFA. According to the ‘Rio’s World Cup Wind-Ups’ star – sorry for reminding you of that fiasco – he has seen Rooney get so angry while playing video games that controllers have been known to get blasted into oblivion.
So, while it is easy to take public perception and Rooney’s somewhat beige post-match interviews as a true reflection of his personality, don’t forget that there is a lot you don’t know about him.
And that now that his greatness is cemented in history, the tapestry of his backstory will only unfurl even further.
FA Cup: ?
League Cup: ??
Community Shield: ????
Club WC: ?
— Manchester United (@ManUtd_ID) January 23, 2017
The eight players Manchester United let go too soon