Wayne Rooney: why is this game happening?
So what do we make of this Rooney scenario? This is one of those obscure sporting stories that seems to genuinely divide opinion. So here goes with both sides of the argument.
The No, No, No Gang
A close friend of mine thought this could have been a disaster. “The crowd might have gone for him in disagreement with the cheapness of an England cap. But I don’t think this would have gone so well if England weren’t in such a good position under Southgate. Luckily it seems he bossed it – bit ironic. Personally, I think this was all totally unnecessary but there you go….”
And he is not wrong…
Peter Shilton led the charge for the “cheap cap” chat. He wrote on Twitter: “I don’t agree with giving Wayne Rooney a cap against USA, caps should be given on merit! Honour him by a presentation on the pitch and let the youngsters do the job!”
Again, he is not wrong…
But do both of these views represent a missed opportunity. Dare i say it, are these views old fashioned and do we live in a new age now?
The Yes, Yes, Yes Brigade (well, my opinion anyway)
When it was announced my initial reaction was WTF??!! That fella retired already… and why the actual *&%$ do we need to support the Rooney Foundation (see below).
And then I thought about it. And I listened to Gareth Southgate. And I realised that (2018) Wayne Rooney epitomises what he wants from this current England squad; respect, utter dedication, leading by example… and what a way to make the rest of the squad be respectful and to come together as a group, than to use a rubbish, uncompetitive friendly as a team bonding exercise. So while I agree, I think it was a cheap cap, I also think he does deserve a truckload of respect; 120 caps for your country and 53 goals, leading scorer, in a generation that never fulfilled its promise. That is something that should be praised.
And I think the FA, the England squad and the Wembley crowd celebrated his career in a dignified way. He behaved in a dignified way. This was a far cry from Chelsea’s car crash, stopping the game in the 27th minute and subbing John Terry, giving him a guard of honour… just play football…
And my honourable friend is dead right, when he came on, he bossed the game. Beautiful passing, constant tracking back, finding space, and he so nearly delivered the dream goal in the last minute. Damn you Brad Guzan.
Honestly, who cares! In this new era of no-friendlies, Nations League, constant competitive matches, I quite liked it. The whole concept is a more American way of thinking, it is so un-British to celebrate our genuine stars like that, but we adopted the idea and then delivered it in a very British way!
Gareth Southgate can have learned very little from the actual football played, but perhaps he knew that before they even kicked off… because for me, the biggest plus of the night is the ongoing evolution of this England Squad. This fixture meant something to this team, you could see that from the way everyone hugged and wished him well. They are a team, one that wants to play, and play well for their country. And that is as great a legacy as Wayne Rooney could have left behind.
The Rooney Foundation
I had no idea what the Rooney Foundation does before writing this article, and frankly, I thought “Why do we need to support another famous footballer’s foundation? They get paid so much effing money, let them fund their foundations themselves. But then I thought I should make sure that I did know something about it, I should seek to understand before I judge…
Through the ‘Wayne Rooney Foundation’, Wayne hopes to use his experience and status to give something back, building a lasting legacy to inspire and improve the lives of children and young people.
The Foundation will run events will raise vital funds to support the work of key organisations dedicated to supporting disadvantaged and vulnerable children and young people. These organisations include, The NSPCC, Claire House Children’s Hospice, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and Manchester United Foundation.
So fair play, these are all organisations that deserve everyone’s support and I applaud Wayne Rooney for using his fame and position to support them.