Wayne Rooney announced his arrival in the Premier League on 19th October 2002, when just five days before his 17th birthday, he ended Arsenal’s 38 game unbeaten streak with a stunning strike from outside the box. Since then, Rooney has developed into one of the world’s great strikers, regularly appearing for both Manchester United and England. He has proved to be one of both the most gifted and most controversial strikers on the planet, with a unique drive and determination unrivalled by his peers. Whether good or bad, there are a lot of lessons to be learnt from Rooney.
To say Rooney had an uneventful game against Hull on Sunday would be a massive understatement. The striker bagged a goal and two assists yet those who had not watched the game will not have seen the full story. With United 1-0 up on the hour mark, Rooney attempted a back bass to his keeper Tomasz Kuszack, only to see his ball intercepted, eventually resulting in a Hull penalty, from which Craig Fagan duly obliged from the spot.
No footballer in the world is immune to errors; even the world’s finest players make mistakes every now and again. In my eyes, it is not the magnitude of the error that sets players apart, it is their reaction and how they atone for it and in this case, everyone can learn a lesson from Wayne Rooney. The picture of the former Everton striker’s face after his back pass was one of desolation. The scouser stood there with his hands on his head, clearly fearing the wrath of his manager Alex Ferguson if he did not rectify the situation. However, Rooney then produced a display of sheer determination and class that even I, the biggest of Chelsea fans must admire.
Rooney covered every blade of grass, chasing down the ball and battling from the front in an attempt to regain the lead for his side. Despite the match entering its final third, Rooney dug deep and still appeared to have bags of energy, showing that he has impressive stamina, even if his exterior suggests the opposite. His side regained the lead after Rooney drilled the ball across goal for Ji Sung Park to see Andy Dawson turn the ball into his own net. Rooney then went into overload in his celebration. The striker jumped up and down before collapsing to his knees in what was clearly a demonstration of both joy and relief. However Rooney’s work was not done as ten minutes later he was once again provider, this time for Berbatov as the striker threaded a pass through the eye of a needle, leaving the Bulgarian with the simplest of finishes.
I was particularly impressed with Rooney’s reaction to his error, not only because of the effort that he put into atoning for it, but in the way in which he turned things around. Rooney is often criticised for losing his head and could have been guilty of unleashing shots from distance in an attempt to redeem himself, yet the striker did the opposite, turning provider, realising that there were better balls available and he reaped the rewards. Many of the other quality strikers in the league may not have reacted in the same way as Rooney. For example, can you imagine Emmanuel Adebayor or Robinho acting in the same manner and showing the determination that Rooney did?
There is certainly sometimes much to be learnt from the negative actions of Wayne Rooney, both on and off the field, but when it comes to determination and passion, there are few better examples in the Premier League. Many other footballers would do well to take Rooney’s performance against Hull as the perfect example of how to react to an error; it is one of the many lessons that Rooney has to offer.