Sophie GayterComment

Rooney 10 of the best

Sophie GayterComment

Tonight, Wayne Rooney plays his last match in an England shirt, and perhaps his last match on English soil. Throughout his career, the Liverpudlian has divided opinion— and perhaps rightly so. It seems odd to say that a man who will finish his career with 5 Premier League titles, 1 Champions League, 1 FA Cup and as England and Manchester United’s all time top scorer failed to live up to expectations, but with Rooney there is always a sense that he never reached the heights he could’ve. As he takes his final bow this evening, it seems fitting to remember his best moments… the thunderous volleys, the deft flicks, and THAT overhead shin into the top corner in the Manchester Derby. Here is a look at Rooney’s best goals during his 16 years in England.

1. Manchester United vs. Manchester City

Yes haters it went off his shin. But what a way to win a Manchester Derby. Rooney had been poor throughout this match, and perhaps that’s why he thought, “Why not have a go?” This is perhaps not his best goal, but it is the one that he will be most remembered by.

2. Manchester United vs. Newcastle

In the words of Ian Darke, “Oh my goodness me. That is one of the strikes of the season!” This goal encapsulates everything Rooney is about as a player— aggression, technique and more than a heaping helping of you.will.not.stop.me. When Rooney nearly took the net off for this strike, United were losing to Newcastle at home, and badly needed someone to step up and turn the match on its head. Enter 19 year old Wayne— still in his first season at Old Trafford, but already showing signs of being able to change a match in an instant with a moment of magic.

3. Stoke City vs. Manchester United

Sir Bobby Charlton’s 249 goals in a red shirt meant that he had been Manchester United’s top scorer since 1973. With this strike, Rooney in his 13th and final season at United, finally broke Sir Bobby’s record. The game itself, a dreary January 3pm kick off away at Stoke, won’t live long in the memory, but Rooney’s exquisite execution and the significance of the goal certainly will.

4. Everton vs. West Ham United

Speaking after this match, Rooney said he thought this goal was perhaps his best ever. With this strike, Rooney completed the 9th hattrick of his career, and first (and only) for his beloved Toffees. The control and technique Rooney showed to hit the ball first time is reminiscent of a golf swing— simply marvelous.

5. Russia vs. England

Rooney’s career in an England shirt (like many before him) was mostly riddled with disappointment and unmet expectations. But as he did with Manchester United, Rooney also surpassed Sir Bobby’s 49 goals for England in 2015— with this wonderful volley against Russia from back in 2007 being the pick of the bunch.

6. Everton vs. Arsenal

“Remember the name: Wayne Rooney”. This strike against an early iteration of Wenger’s Invincible Arsenal side, was 16 year old Rooney’s introduction to English football and catapulted him into the spotlight. The confidence to take a strike on from that distance against England’s #1 David Seaman is impressive, but to actually pull it off is nothing short of extraordinary.

7. Manchester United vs. Portsmouth

Rooney at his impudent best. Few players would have the presence of mind to try such a delicate chip, but that is what made Rooney in his prime such a joy to watch. There was nothing David James could do as it floated over his head into the net. Precision at its finest.

8. Manchester United vs. Bolton

One of the great counter attacking goals in Premier League history. Ronaldo and Rooney’s partnership was arguably the main reason why United were so successful from 2004 to Ronaldo’s departure in 2009. This goal won Match of the Day’s Goal of the Season in 2007— the give and go(s), the delightful dink over the onrushing keeper, free flowing, counter attacking football at its absolute best.

9. Croatia vs. England

The goal against Arsenal for Everton made English football sit up and take notice, but his performances at Euro 2004 for his country made 18 year old Rooney a global sensation. His partnership with Michael Owen in those early days was excellent, and Rooney’s 4 goals in 3 games in the group stages made him the golden boy of European football. An unlucky metatarsal break in the Quarterfinal meant that Rooney and England’s tournament ended early, but this was a life changing tournament for the 18 year old. Within a few months he would be world football’s most expensive teenager as he traded Everton blue for Manchester United red.

10. Manchester United vs. Fenerbahce

Has there been a better debut than Rooney’s for Manchester United? Sir Alex Ferguson said after the game that Rooney had barely trained as he had been recovering from the broken metatarsal he sustained at Euro 2004. But Rooney in this match was running on pure instinct and adrenaline as he scored his first goals for his new club, and his first career hattrick.