Wayne Rooney is on the verge of England greatness. His 50th goal for his country will leave him as its all-time leading goalscorer. From the moment he burst on to the scene, the young lad from Croxteth has captured the country’s imagination with is dazzling ability and penchant for playing on the edge.
Here we take a look at the Manchester United man’s most memorable strikes for the Three Lions.
Prior to Iceland being everyone’s second international team they were one of the perennial whipping boys of world football. England took them on at the City of Manchester Stadium in June of 2004 as they warmed up for the Euros and went about hammering them 6-1. It was a game that brought with it a brace for Darius Vassell and a goal for Wayne Bridge; Iceland really were that bad.
However, the nation’s new hope also notched a double and the second was an absolute rasper. Wazza picks up the ball all of 25 yards out and unleashes a rocket into the bottom right corner, a sign of things to come that summer.
Perhaps the game that got everyone a little bit too excited about Sven Goran Ericsson’s new protégé was the clash with Croatia in Portugal. Rooney was in majestic form and looked like he was set to take the world by storm.
He’d already grabbed himself a goal in this game but the then Everton striker wasn’t finished. He picked up the ball on the halfway line and played a fantastic one-two with Michael Owen before slotting home past the stranded ‘keeper, sending the nation into delusional rapture.
Everyone loves a volley, and this one against the Russians was a real peach from Rooney. Micah Richards launched a long ball forwards and Owen somehow found a trampoline with which to propel himself above the host’s centre back to flick on to the Red Devils striker. He took it on his chest and unleashed a swerving volley above the goalkeeper.
Unfortunately, Steve McClaren’s side went on to lose the game 2-1 in their ill-fated qualifying campaign for Euro 2008. This goal seems somewhat reflective of Rooney’s international efforts so far, a touch of genius but ultimate despair, and not necessarily through any fault of his own
OK, OK, we know, it wasn’t a good goal but for Rooney it was an important one. The skipper had never scored in a World Cup until he tapped in against Suarez and co in Brazil. That fact was used like a spike infested stick with which to beat him throughout his career and the relief on his face was clear for all to see.
As we all know England went on to lose that game, as they tend to do in major tournaments, but for the striker, having a World Cup strike on his CV was mightily important, if just to stop the deafening heckling of the public and pundits alike.
This one is more of a team goal but inevitably it was Rooney who supplied the finish. This was tiki-taka-tastic from Roy Hodgson’s charges as they shift the ball around the Auld Enemy’s defence like a modern day Barcelona.
Adam Lallana’s cut-back is sublime and England’s main man times his run perfectly to emerge from a cluster of Scottish defenders to help the ball home. He then proceeds to produce the most English of backflips to put the cherry on a St George’s cross emblazoned cake.