Wayne Rooney, when he takes to the pitch today to captain the England side against Slovakia in their World Cup Qualifying match will become the most capped outfield player for England.
It will be his 116th game for the national side, starting 106 of those previous games and coming on as a substitute in 9 of those. He has only completed 47 of those games though. Wayne, aged 30, has captained England 19 times previously before today and has scored a record number of goals – 53.
Manchester United player Wayne Rooney made his England debut as a 17 year old against Australia in February 2003 and has been in the England squad at three European Championships and three World Cups.
He is a marmite kind of player, those who like him love him a lot. Those who don’t like, don’t like him a lot! The former Everton player has fans torn a lot of the time on what they think of him. Where should he be played, what system does he naturally fit into, should he be a natural fit into a team system and others fit around him, or is the team set up more important than the individual no matter how much of a goal threat he can be?
He has been sent off twice playing for his country, once in the 2006 World Cup Quarter Final versus Portugal. This incident became more famous for Ronaldo’s wink afterwards implying that he had some part in getting him sent off. His other sending off was in the 2011 match against Montenegro where he pointlessly lashed off from behind. Wayne has a temper, and players know how to get to him.
When David Beckham was sent off in 1998, he came under a barrel load of abuse but he turned his game around then. Wayne Rooney’s temper has always been something that has needed managing and not all of his managers have been able to do this.
He has lashed out at fans on camera for them booing a losing England side, rather than understanding the frustration that they have with the 11 multi-millionaires that take the pitch and under-perform year on year.
Wayne Rooney has been a fantastic goalscorer throughout his career. He knows his way to the goal. I don’t necessarily think he is the ideal captain though, as I don’t think someone so hot headed as he is can bring the required calmness and patience when the side is needing to step up a gear or two.
Regardless of what I think, Wayne Rooney has given his best more often than not for the England cause. He has scored a record number of goals, 53, and he has made himself available to do what he can in a number of positions for the four managers he has worked under at an international level.
Tonight sees the start of the Sam Allardyce England era, and Wayne Rooney needs to put his mark on this new side. He needs to make sure that his passion for the cause is matched by the communication and cohesion with the rest of the team. When Rooney plays with other players who understand what he is trying to do, and how he is trying to play, he can be a world beater. When he doesn’t do that, he is best off out of the side.
Good luck to Wayne Rooney and England as they start a new chapter in his international career. I will keep supporting you and your colleagues, but the nation needs a consistent application of skills and mindset within the squad. You can’t win trophies with just passion, you also need patience, persistence, and cohesion within a team.