Wayne Rooney calls time on England: Finally

Wayne Rooney, hailed by some as the greatest English striker in history has officially retired from international football.

Rooney, 31, ends his career as England’s highest scorer with 53 goals in 119 games for the national team which is highly impressive but isn’t without criticism. The former Manchester United striker broke onto the scene at Everton and lit the world on fire in the 2004 Euro Championships before a big money move to Manchester. That tournament would be Rooney’s best.

Rooney is without a doubt one of English football’s greatest ever forwards, having scored 253 times for Manchester United, winning the Champions league, league cup, FA cup, Premier League titles and the FIFA World Club Cup. Sadly for Rooney and his legacy, this success was not reflected in his international career even with his scoring record.

Wayne Rooney is an English legend. Wayne Rooney should not be considered an England legend. Think to yourself of the top three Wayne Rooney tournament moments. How quickly can you think up three moments of brilliance? The moments that come most readily to mind are his red card for stamping on Christiano Ronaldo, the rant down the camera in the 2010 world cup and his injury in the 2004 euros that pulled the curtain down on his greatest international tournament.

Rooney may well be English footballer greatest striker, he isn’t England’s greatest striker, that accolade falls to Linekar, Greaves or perhaps even Michael Owen or Alan Shearer all of whom contributed more in major tournaments. Wayne Rooney for all his goals in qualifiers and friendlies scored one world cup goal,  in 2014 in a 2-1 loss against Uruguay, the game that confirmed England’s world cup exit in the group stages. In European Championships Rooney faired much better, netting six goals in three competitions, including four in Euro 2004.

Rooney’s goals were unquestionably a large part of how England qualified for the major tournaments, but once there, he, like his team, did not perform. We can rightly celebrate his successes at club level and his innate footballing ability, but when it comes to England his record feels like a technicality; almost tainted. With the bulk of his goals coming against the smaller nations in world football, Uruguay was the best team he scored a competitive goal against.

Wayne Rooney will be remembered as a player with enviable longevity and incredible promise, but ultimately, for England at least, never recaptured his club form when it really mattered and this will ultimately count against his legacy as an England great. Rooney never became the player many wanted him to be, and whilst Rio Ferdinand points to his age being the reason for his being overlooked for England, instead, we should look at his performances, the players coming up and his record.

The Wayne Rooney era has ended. England fans should hope that with it ends the era of unrealistic expectations and pressure being applied to the individual player. The weight of expectation which ultimately, dogged his career.

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