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By Adam Kirk-Smith on 17.10.2023

The trouble with Wayne Rooney

England topped their European Championship qualifying group, six points clear of the second place team, yet none of that seemed to matter when UEFA handed out their sentence to the nation’s best player last week. Wayne Rooney is once again at the centre of controversy.

For all the forward’s mercurial talent and tremendous endeavour, it is his lack of control and sense that has cost his country their most valuable footballing asset, at the time when he might be most needed. This has led to the previously unthinkable scenario of a squad list for the competition in Poland and Ukraine that omits the Manchester United talisman.

As surely does not need emphasising, this is not the first time the player’s recklessness, and disregard for his own and other’s safety, that has incurred a great loss for his team, either on a national or club level. On the pitch, memories immediately fly back to that fateful stamp on Carvalho’s nether regions, and the subsequent expulsion. That is of course, the most tangible and lasting memory, but anyone who follows football assiduously will know that his disciplinary record when playing for his club is, in the kindest terms, indicative of his infamous short fuse.

In seven years, from the time he made his premier league debut at the age of sixteen (a feat, despite its context here, deserving of respect and recognition), to 2009, he has seen the yellow card brandished in his direction seventy six times, and been cast from the field with a red on four occasions. Since then, his record has improved, and so have his actions off the pitch, conducting himself with noticeably more control, overlooking the ban he received in April of this year for uttering a torrent of expletives at a television camera at West Ham’s Boleyn Ground.

Wayne Rooney is a character who will always divide opinion, partly as a result of the hugely partisan nature of football fans (as an Arsenal fan, I can ‘honestly’ say that he’s the worst player to have ever stepped onto a pitch), and partly because of his fundamental nature. It would of course, be far better for everyone if he had been able to continue the disciplinary improvement he has made in recent years, and develop a greater sense of self-control. There is one aphorism that seems worthy of finishing this article however:

‘If my devils are to leave me, I fear my angels may take flight as well’ (Ranier Maria Rilke).

If the United man is to tame his fiery nature, would the passion for the game that makes him one of the best players in the world be extinguished along with it?


  • I don’t think that his “firey nature” is linked at all to his talent or to passion for the game. In the world cup, he failed to do anything of note, not score a goal, not step up to the mark at all. It might be something to do with the fact that he’s the second highest paid English footballer in England, only behind Beckham, who I remember did a lot more for England, both on and off the pitch, that Rooney has.

    All Rooney seems to do is show an immense comfort playing for his club team, and a total inability to play well for England. There is no incentive for him to play for England; Fabio doesn’t pay him the big money. If he could convert his passion for cheating on his wife and throwing a strop when he doesn’t think he’s got enough money into actual fondness for the game and legitimate skill, then I’d be a lot happier seeing him on the pitch.

    By Anonymous on 20.10.2023

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