February 12, 2011. The date Wayne Rooney etched his name into Manchester United folklore. It was a league game against Manchester City, who were threatening to upset the balance as United’s biggest threats. The game was heading for a draw until Rooney came up with a moment of brilliance that still resonates at Old Trafford till this day.
In the 78th minute, Nani put in a cross which deflected off the back of a City defender, and no one could believe their eyes after Rooney scored. Out of nowhere, he executed a beautiful overhead kick that a Brazilian would be proud of, and cemented himself as a United legend.
The Rooney we see these days is laid-back, slow and desperately lacking in confidence. Rooney has suffered a steady decline in the past two years, and is closing in on a return to boyhood club, Everton. As a 16 year old in 2002, Rooney scored a belter against Arsenal that announced him as a talent for the future. Within two years at the age of 18, he was leading the line for England at Euro 2004, and it is widely believed that his injury scuppered The Three Lions chances of winning the competition in Portugal.
Rooney has never hidden his love for the night life, never willing to go the extra mile in terms of working in his body like Cristiano Ronaldo, and is at a crossroads in his career. He struggled for gametime under Jose Mourinho last season, and ahead of a World Cup year, knows that playing regularly is a key requirement if he is to stand a chance of making it to his 4th World Cup. Playing so early in his career has also hampered him. 15 years of football leaves a huge toll in the body, and we United fans should remember Rooney for his performances, instead of the bad form of the last 2 years.
Who would have thought that Rooney would leave Old Trafford before Michael Carrick? Football isn’t mathematics and to Rooney, we will always remember you and wish him all the best.