Love him or hate him, you’ve got to respect him. 13 years, 119 appearances and 53 goals later; Wayne Mark Rooney has finally hung his international boots. In what has been a glittering career, he ends as England’s all-time top-scorer; and the second highest in the list of appearances, behind the legendary Peter Shilton. This news has indeed come as a shock to most fans, as the striker seems to have found his goalscoring touch with 2 goals and plenty of positives in his games with Everton, all under the close scrutiny of national team coach, Gareth Southgate. However, a footballer knows best when the time is right to step down.
Let us look at some of the best moments of his career, as we celebrate one of the greatest, if not the greatest, players to represent the Three Lions.
International Debut vs Australia- 13th February 2003
Upton Park witnessed a paradoxical situation of sorts. The bad? They succumbed to a 3-1 loss to Australia. The good? A 17-year-old Evertonian, known to possess bags of potential was handed his International debut. There were flashes of brilliance all around; and his cameo appearance left the fans wanting for more.
First International goal – The youngest England goal scorer
Rooney scored his first international goal at the aged 17 years and 317 days, when most kids of his age would struggle to decide what movie to watch over the weekend.
His goal against Macedonia was the first of 53.
Euro 2004: Rooney’s finest moment in the England shirt
Euro 2004 introduced the boy-faced Rooney to the rest of the world, His brace against Croatia in a must win game for the English will go down as his best performance in the international scene. A long-range goal followed by a neat run and finish, characteristic of Wayne, showcased the potential that had been unleashed. He ended the tournament with a broken foot; but that didn’t stop Manchester United from signing him.
Thunderbolt vs Brazil at the Maracanã
England’s first visit to Brazil after the famous 2-0 win in 1984 was an eagerly anticipated encounter. With the game poised at 1-1, Rooney picked up the ball in midfield and ran at a retreating David Luiz. He has one glance at the goal, and unleashes a shot that glided into the top corner. It’s swerve was almost supernatural and the replays show Julio Cesar was nowhere close to saving it. The more you see it, the better it gets.
The elusive World Cup goal
Wayne Rooney headed into the 2014 World Cup with a miserable record at the Championships. His locker had everything that a modern-day footballer could wish for, except for a World Cup goal. This too was done in typical Wayne Rooney style. Sturridge’s neat dribble down the right released Johnson, who beat his man to fire in a low cross at the back post. Wayne had made a run at the back post undetected, and tapped the ball into the net; much to his delight. He finally had a World Cup goal to show for.
50th England Goal vs Switzerland
Bobby Charlton’s record of 49 goals seemed impossible to beat. Jimmy Greaves and Lineker tried; but gave up before they could reach the top of the pile. Against Switzerland, Wayne was 12 yards away from breaking a record that stood for 45 years. It may have seemed a normal penalty to most of us, but for Wayne, it was destiny. A moment he’d dreamed of as he first took to the pitch as a 17-year-old.
Fairytales do exist.
Thank you, Master Wayne.