Among this week’s clutch of largely forgettable international matches, unless you’re a Scot or a Malaysian, came an outstanding moment in the history of English football. Wayne Rooney, with a penalty in the 84th minute of England’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland at Wembley, broke Sir Bobby Charlton’s long standing accolade as England’s record international goalscorer.
The repercussions for Rooney have begun almost immediately. Indeed, they began on Saturday after his penalty against San Marino brought him level with Sir Bob. Analyses of which teams he’s scored his goals against. The fact he hadn’t (until last year) scored a goal in World Cups. The fact that Charlton won a World Cup and Rooney patently hasn’t.To that theory, that Rooney’s goals for England are somehow devalued, I would propose the theory is nonsense. International football in general terms isn’t easy, and what’s also not easy is to be consistent in it over a great period of time given the lack of preparation and engagement with team-mates. Great forwards have come and gone for England in the 40-odd years since Charlton’s last international and many have not come close to his record. Given Rooney’s longevity in the international game, from that Gazza-esque 18 year old at Euro 2004 to the…Gazza-esque striker of today, he is patently a player of genuine quality. Whether he has ultimately fulfilled the potential he showed in Portugal 11 years ago is perhaps an argument for another day. For now, he has achieved what no other England player has managed – a half-century of international goals. No matter who they’ve come against, and yes a decent proportion of them have come against Kazakhstan and San Marino, Therefore I say – give the guy a break. Congratulate him for what is an historical achievement, and hope, from an England fan’s perspective, that he goes on to score many more for his country before his retirement and consequent appearance on I’m A Celebrity in about 2026.