Wayne Rooney, The Lion King?

English great Wayne Rooney

Image: Reuters

It has been a few weeks since Wayne Rooney broke Sir Bobby Charlton’s England record for goals, but the debate still rages on: Is Rooney one of the greats for England? His record-breaking performances warrant at least some form of consideration, so lets take a look at how Rooney’s England career stacks up.

For starters, as we have already hit, Rooney broke the goalscoring record during Euro qualifying. So in pure numbers he is the best, although today’s players have many more opportunities to score goals with friendlies. Rooney is still kicking at age 29, having morphed over his career into a versatile player. He will likely extend English record and continue chasing an elusive major championship trophy. His versatile game will also let him continue competing long past the prime age for strikers.

Among his numerous accolades, there are a few that stand out over the others. First being his 100 caps for his country. Only 9 Englishmen have reached the century mark, and Rooney has a good chance to catch David Beckham in 2nd place by the end of Euro 2016. Peter Shilton holds the caps record, a mere 18 caps more than Rooney. Age and injuries obviously come into play, but Rooney is well positioned to claim that record too. The second big accolade is being the captain of his country. It is a true honor to be the skipper for your nation, and Rooney has done an excellent job representing England with the armband.

Wayne Rooney first burst onto the international scene with four goals in Euro 2004, where an injury ended his tournament. Who knows what would have happened had he been available for the shootout against Portugal in the quarterfinals. From there, Rooney has been a steady presence for the Three Lions, scoring at least one goal in every calendar year. But Euro 2004 was a perfect example of why some do not consider Rooney to be a great.

The one knock on his international career has been that England have not won trophies. I find this confusing, considering the country only has 1 major tournament win and 4 total semifinal appearances. Sir Bobby Charlton does have 2 of these results to tout, including the 1966 World Cup. But is that really fair to compare? Winning a World Cup on home soil is hardly a fair comparison against Rooney, who has only played a single World Cup on European soil. In fact, the other three World Cups that Charlton was a part of, England only advanced to the quarterfinals.

While Rooney and England have struggled at major tournaments a large majority of the time, there is still another cycle for him to make his mark. Since taking over as captain from Steven Gerrard, Wayne has guided England to a perfect qualification record in Euro 2016 qualifying. England has already clinched a spot, letting the English fans rest easy for a few months before the team actually heads to France. As for the next World Cup, qualifying begins a year from now, when Wazza will be in his 30’s. It will definitely be his last shot at a World Cup, if he can stay healthy and perform.

So to the original question: Is Wayne Rooney the Lion King? I don’t think he is there quite yet, but he is already an English great. He still has a bit of career left in him, which gives him the opportunity to add on to what he has already accomplished. He is not yet the Lion King, but he sure has the chance to be.

 

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About the author: Dominic Habjan

 

I am a contributor to SoccerPro’s blogs, and truly enjoy writing about the World’s Game. I support Sporting KC, US National Team, and Slovenian National Team. I follow the Premier League but don’t necessarily have a favorite club. I am an avid sports fan, but prefer college to professional leagues in every sport with exception to soccer. I love the Mizzou Tigers, KC Royals, and KC Chiefs. Outside sports I enjoy movies, music, and musical theatre.

Website: https://www.soccerpro.com

 

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