It’s always hard to believe wonderkids grow old. But Wayne Rooney is going to turn 29 very soon, playing in the Premier League for 13 seasons and for England since 2003. It’s been so long players like Jack Wilshere see him as a father figure.
But Rooney? A leader? Someone to set an example? It’s always hard separating his public image – a slightly chubby lad from Liverpool who finds it hard to turn down a nice cool beer or some less than appropriate piece of food, from his on field persona. Rooney has his ups and downs, but for someone who is considered something of a star, he’s quite the hard worker, versatile and one of the less selfish forwards you’ll find playing for a big club like Manchester United.
He’s the only one now who has been playing for England for 10 years. He’s been through that generation with the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard. He really feels like he’s the dad figure if you like. He puts his arm around us, brings us together, gets us going. (Via the BBC)
Wilshere, 22, has also been singled out to be one of the pillars for England in the coming years. Sometimes he seems to be one of the more overrated football prodigies to have graced the football pitches in England. It’s not just his poor numbers because Wilshere isn’t going to be getting too many chances to score. It’s simply difficult to understand at times just how much does he really contribute to a team, still trying to learn how not to do too much at the same time.
Rooney gets the role just because he’s been there for a long time. He’s ninth on the all-time cap list for England with 98, soon to become the ninth player with at least 100 appearances wearing the Three Lions on his shirt. He has also scored 42 goals, putting him just seven behind Bobby Charlton’s record of 49, which has been holding on for 44 years. Gary Lineker came extremely close (48) and Michael Owen would have made it (40 goals in 89 caps) if he wasn’t so damn fragile.
Rooney? It’s hard to say if he’s a leader or not. It’s hard from those viewing from the outside to tell how one’s words on the football pitch affect others. But he’s the most experienced player on the team, playing in international tournaments since Euro 2004. That has to count for something, even if it’s hard to accept what Wilshere said about him as proof of his leadership and being a good role model to younger players.