If you know anything about this blog, you know that I know that soccer is on a torrid pace to become the third most popular sport in this country. This movement, beginning in earnest around the year 2010, has been headed by a number of the world’s best players. Among them was (and is) Wayne Rooney, the English striker, star of one of the best teams in the world.
It wasn’t hard to understand why Rooney was so popular with the U.S. fan base. He was named the England Player of the Year in 2008 and 2009. He appeared on the cover of Fifa (and was featured in commercials for it) more than once. He spoke a language that we all understood (although in a foreign accent with less than perfect grammar and some interesting idiosyncratic speech patterns). And there was fire. Wayne Rooney isn’t some field fairy from Brazil, scampering about the field looking to finesse his way past bigger defenders (although it turns out diminutive offensive players have proven to be very effective in today’s game). Rather, Rooney is soccer power. He shoots strong, plays tough, and is always ready for a demonstrative exhibition of emotion.
And then there was his bicycle kick goal versus Manchester City that sent his popularity soaring again. The goal was named the best of the Premier League’s 20 seasons, and it was a finalist for the ESPYs Best Play for that year. An article was written about him last year that asked why he is not considered a soccer genius.
In sum, Wayne Rooney has done a lot to set himself atop the soccer world. But let’s take an honest look at who Wayne Rooney, at this moment in time, really is:
He’s a hothead who complains about calls, swears at cameras, and kicks opposing players.
He’s had plenty of tabloid controversies and scandals, including an affair with a prostitute while his wife was pregnant.
He has at times been maddeningly inconsistent.
He got hair transplants.
He has not led England to any sort of success in Euros or the World Cup.
He has twice failed to win a UEFA Champions League Final.
He is fading into the role of second fiddle on his own club team in favor of Robin Van Persie.
When you look past the bright lights and the aura surrounding this incredibly talented player, you’re left with a superstar who has never won anything other than a Premier League Championship (not to say that’s not an accomplishment, but when you’re playing with a blank check….) and has yet to fully live up to his hype as the white Pele. Injuries, combined with the excellence of Van Persie, have made his contributions to this years dominant Manchester United team almost an afterthought. He may be England’s best player, but he can’t hold a candle to the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, or Christiano Ronaldo on the world stage. Maybe you disagree, but the Ballon d’Orn’t Lie.
So, for Mr. Rooney: “If you are what you say you are/a superstar/then have no fear/the crowd is here/and the lights are on/and they want a show.”
He’s still a terrific player with that fire that fans love. There’s a certain amount of anticipation when he plays, as fans, players, and commentators alike wait for him to do something remarkable. The Fifa broadcasters always get really animated (no pun intended) when he has the ball near the goal. And that’s not without reason. With his talent, in the prime of his career, on one of the world’s best steams, with an equally dangerous striker playing alongside him, it would be silly to bet against him.
It’s still his turn. And Wayne Rooney does not like it when you don’t play nice.
It’s Still Your Turn Countdown
10. John Wall
9. Tim Tebow
8. Carmelo Anthony
7. Derrick Rose
5. Wayne Rooney
4. Coming Soon
Still learning the world of soccer. How did I do? Like, comment, subscribe/follow, post to Facebook and Twitter, email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for reading!
Soli Deo Gloria