Rooney : The Wayne of an Era

September, 2004.
Manchester United v/s Fenerbahçe.
The UEFA Champion’s league.
A spirited 18-year-old, freshly arrived at Manchester United, was about to make a fairytale debut at the Old Trafford. For good reason, this venue is coined as the ‘Theatre of Dreams’. Why, the reason would be proven soon enough.

No one would have begrudged him for facing the first-night nerves, even the most demanding fans would sanction his apprehension, were his legs to restrict him like fetters. How could they, the burden would’ve been too much to bear on his young, inexperienced shoulders. This icon, however, put in a commanding performance that was one for the ages – delivering a formidable hat-trick against the hapless Turkish club.

In a dazzling demonstration of pace, poise, power and precision, Wayne Rooney had asserted his ground as a player with immeasurable potential. Here is a man who has since racked up 5 Premier League titles, 3 League Cups, 1 FA Cup, 1 Champions League, 1 Europa League and 1 Club World Cup with the Reds.

 

Now that it’s time for Manchester United to bid farewell to a club legend, heavy-hearted fans from all over have come forth to pay their respects.

Who can forget the Red Devils striker’s spectacular overhead bicycle kick against arch rivals Manchester City, which had him springing five feet in the air? Almost as if he shared an ethereal connect with the ball, which encountered a little deflection and zoomed right into the top-right corner.

Always known for his dramatic late goals, the model professional proved his mettle yet again on the 2016 New Year’s Eve encounter with Middlesbrough. Rooney opportunely broke Sir Bobby Charlton’s goal record, when his brilliant 94th-minute free-kick earned a draw in United’s last outing at Stoke City.

Now that nostalgia is rife, we must also acknowledge that after 13 trophy-laden years, the form of the talismanic captain has dipped considerably over the past few seasons. Perhaps a fresh start with Everton is what he needs to rediscover some of his old magic.

One of England’s finest hitmen, he found himself an ardent admirer in United manager, José Mourinho. Their thirteen-year long tryst met with both high and low tides, and ended with Rooney making a sensational 253 goals, making him the club’s all-time top goalscorer.

This temperamental but prolific striker showcased his penchant for scoring when he became the youngest ever goal-scorer in Premier League history. After a certain point you had every viewer asking themselves, what more is left for him? How many more goals can he score? How much more committed can he possibly be to one football club?

Administering his roles as both a striker and central attacking midfielder with equal aplomb, his long shots have always been impeccable, and most of the time, unstoppable. Through the years of his captaincy, the “Wazza” has made tremendous progress in regulating his temperament – enough to secure an imperishable spot in English football folklore.

There was a time when a mere mention of Manchester United’s dauntless duo comprising Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney would set fear in the hearts of every defence regiment of the Premier League. While those days have now come to a desolate end, some continue to say they saw ‘a white Pele’, who goes by the name of Wayne Rooney. Here’s to someone who immortalized the number 10 jersey, and truly made it his own.

Rooney will always be missed for his unmatched focus, commitment and determination. He went on to create some of the most magical moments in some of the most successful years of the club’s history. Who knows what he’ll conjure up in the next phase of his incredible career?

It could only have been fate that Sir Alex Ferguson, the legendary Scotsman and one of the greatest managers to have graced the dugout, laid the foundation for Rooney’s​ remarkable form. The former English skipper admitted that the infamous “hairdryer treatment” did, in fact, bring out the best in him. Under David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and now José, Rooney has soared through an upward trajectory from being a hot-headed, truculent youngster (he is the most red-carded player for England, along with David Beckham) to attaining a calm stature, a sort of Zen mode that his leadership brought along. This was especially perceptible when England swept Scotland aside at Wembley, further assuring Gareth Southgate not to leave the idol out again for a very, very long time. Rooney’s newfound ability to assume composure in the face of a storm, was something he helped translate to his teammates as well.

When asked what are some of his go-to prerituals before the game, he says,

You’re out there, trying to prepare yourself for the crucial moments that lie ahead, and you think about all the lows you’ve faced, memories settling like a necessary evil that always makes you want to improve. I’m​ not sure whether to call it visualising or dreaming, but I’ve always done it. My whole life.

“Rooney, Rooney, Rooney,” chant on the Old Trafford faithful. Twelve years on, this very refrain is echoed by ardent admirers across the globe, in unfeigned salutation to a true luminary.

 

Ananya Roy

Klutz Lord/ Pun enthusiast. Puppies over hoomans. Classical pianist who may sometimes get difficult to Handel, Vivaldi inbuilt sarcasm. Firm believer in all-goblin string quartets and the jabberwocky.

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