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Wayne Rooney - A New Boy Wonder for English Football?

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Wayne Rooney - A New Boy Wonder for English Football?

by Chris Towland
www.Football-Nut.co.uk

Until England's untimely exit at the hands of the host
nation (and a Swiss Referee), the player making all the
newspaper headlines during Euro 2004 in Portugal was Wayne
Rooney, English football's latest 'boy wonder'.

Still four month's shy of his nineteenth birthday, Rooney's
four Euro goals ..... two against Switzerland (including his
shot that rebounded off the post only to hit the Swiss
keeper and bounce into the net) and two further superb goals
against Croatia, set English hearts racing with hopes of a
first major tournament win since holding the World Cup aloft
in 1966.

Those hopes, of course, were eventually brought crashing to
earth by a combination of a Wayne Rooney injury, an
extremely dubious disallowed goal and traditionally poor
penalty taking by the English team (including one from our
Captain that Jonny Wilkinson would have been proud of!)

No-one can question Wayne Rooney's performances for his
country, the quality of his football at international level
or his incredible goalscoring ability, but have Rooney's
performances in the blue shirt of his own club, Everton,
been as sparkling as those when wearing his national
colours? ....... And what does the future hold for our
'Roonaldo'?

Rooney's Premiership debut arrived early in the 2002/2003
campaign when he became the youngest Premier League player
at the tender age of sixteen. Two other records quickly
followed ..... Firstly, the two goals he scored in Everton's
Worthington Cup victory over Wrexham gave Rooney the title
of Everton's youngest-ever goalscorer, a record that had
previously been held by Tommy Lawton. Secondly, in October
2002 and at the age of 16 years and 360 days, a cracker of a
goal that beat the England goalkeeper David Seaman in the
last few seconds of the game against Arsenal, made Rooney
the youngest-ever Premiership scorer!

Many England fans will be surprised to hear however, that
apart from a few very notable occasions, Wayne Rooney's
performances in the Premiership have been less than
spectacular as he has often seemed unable to duplicate his
England form on the domestic stage!

In his first season of Premiership action he made fourteen
full appearances for Everton and came on as a substitute a
total of nineteen times. During this season Rooney scored a
total of six Premiership goals which included the goal in
November 2002 that gave Everton their first win at Leeds
United for 51 years. A month later, Wayne Rooney was sent
off in a game that Everton drew with Birmingham City.
Ironically, this was on the very same day that James Milner
of Leeds United broke Rooney's youngest Premiership scorer
record by the tiny margin of just three days!

During the 2003/2004 season Rooney was certainly catching
the eye of Sven Goran Erickson, the England team manager,
but statistical records of his season show possibly a lower
tally in the goalscoring department than many England fans
would have expected. In fact, from twenty-six full
appearances and eight as a substitute, Wayne Rooney scored
only nine Premiership goals.

But as for the past, who cares? As the whole of Europe saw,
Rooney was masterful during Euro 2004 and if it wasn't for
his broken metatarsal who knows how far he and his England
teammates could have progressed?

As for the future, there is talk in the press of massive
bids in the region of 50 million from either Chelsea or
Manchester United. Rooney himself is said to prefer the
Manchester option which would keep him close to his North-
West roots but it is possible that the deep Chelsea pockets
may force United out of the bidding.

Wherever Wayne Rooney ends up playing his football for the
next few seasons, let's hope that for the sake of the
English game his progress continues and that he reaches the
heady heights that have been forecast for him and really
does become England's 'Boy Wonder'!

Chris Towland
June 2004

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Chris Towland