Wayne Rooney has this week come out and said that to be anywhere near as big a legend as Sir Bobby Charlton – he’d have to win a major trophy with England. But do England fans believe even that would be enough?
Rooney has come in for increased criticism in recent years, despite continuing to be prolific for England, so is he an England legend, or does he not compare to the true England greats?
He started his England career with such high expectations, with great potential, becoming England’s youngest player when he came on against Australia in 2003. 12 years on, the England captain is not set to join a select group when he earns his 100th (and golden) cap against Slovenia on Saturday, an award that should not go without praise.
And he doesn’t have to stop there. Shilton’s record of 125 caps is easily reachable, whilst he is only 6 goals behind Bobby Charlton’s all-time scoring record for the Three Lions. Passing both of these would surely put him up there with the best, would it not?
However, he has never quite reached the level that many imagined he would after seeing him play in the early stages of 2004. His leg-breaking injury ended the excitement, and England’s hope of doing well, and it’s arguable that we have never looked as good as a team since then.
Rooney’s own opinion is a fair one, major trophies still separate him from the likes of Charlton, winner of the World Cup, and Lineker, 1986 Golden Boot winner. Not many people expect England to win a major tournament any time soon, and therefore he may always lie short in that category, but if he did pull off the unthinkable then critics would certainly have to think again.
He may have had his low points in the England shirt, but to remain as one of the best for 10 years and counting is a massive achievement. The determination of whether he is an England great is all down to opinion. What are you measuring it by? Who are you comparing him too? Whatever you think, as England’s captain, we must all get behind him on the road to Euro 2016.