Allegations about the private lives of footballers are nothing new for football fans but the public reaction to Wayne Rooney and John Terry’s recent indiscretions has been markedly different. On the whole, fans have shrugged off the latest news of Rooney’s sordid sex scandal while on the other hand, John Terry was lambasted by fans and the media alike for his extra-marital affair with Wayne Bridge’s ex Vanessa Perroncel. The discrepancy between the reaction to Rooney and Terry’s affairs has got me thinking about whether Rooney enjoys a greater leeway with the public and what the reasons could be for such a reputation.
Both John Terry and Wayne Rooney’s affairs have garnered a huge amount of tabloid coverage. Fleet Street’s finest have been all over Rooney since the story broke that he cheated on his pregnant wife with a prostitute. However, while the front pages are awash with lurid headlines of Rooney’s alleged infidelity, the back-pages are surprisingly absent from any criticism of the Manchester United striker. Rather than drawing attention to the scandal, the sports pages are distancing themselves from the story and focusing on matters on the pitch rather than off it. If there is a mention of the affair, it is only to say that Rooney will be unaffected by the media attention.
If anything, the circus surrounding Rooney has come at a good time for the Manchester United striker. He had been struggling for confidence after his terrible performance in South Africa and the revelations about his private life will have galvanised Rooney to go out and show that he is still the player that he was before the World Cup started.
And he did so on Tuesday to great effect. He scored the opening goal against Switzerland in Basel and left the field to a standing ovation from the travelling England fans.
John Terry has not been so lucky. He has come in for abuse from fans up and down the country with his every touch greeted with a crescendo of boos. The news of his affair was a serious blow to the Chelsea defender’s confidence and he looked shaky at times in the Chelsea backline. Unfortunately for Terry, he carried over his anxieties into the World Cup this summer and was less than assured in England’s disastrous World Cup campaign.
Maybe one of the reasons that Rooney has escaped the boo-boys has to do with the timing of the revelation of his affair. Rooney’s latest revelation comes in the midst of a relatively easy European qualifying schedule with the team attempting to rebuild after their World Cup showing. Terry’s affair however was revealed in the build-up to England’s World Cup campaign. Great things were expected from this England team and they failed to deliver. With the weight of public expectation on the shoulders of England’s biggest players, Terry was unable to perform to his best and was an easy target to blame for England’s disappointment.
There is also the club factor to consider. In recent years, Chelsea have become one of the most disliked teams in all of the nation and John Terry is undoubtedly the face of the club having held the captain’s armband for a number of years. The allegations about Terry’s private life have only added to the many reasons for opposition fans to hate the club.
Rooney has managed to get away relatively scot-free in this whole mess simply because he is the poster-boy for English football. He is the one great hope, tasked with returning England to the top of world football once again. To do this, he has to be the one who scores goals for our team. As a defender, John Terry isn’t likely to score many goals and his contributions in games are less high-profile. Terry is a relic of the international old guard who failed to turn up in South Africa and needs to be discarded if the national team has any chance of moving forward.
Football these days goes hand in hand with celebrity. With all the gossip that goes on daily in the pages of our newspapers and on our television screens, the footballing public have simply got bored of all of the scandal. It refuses to shock us now. And this is probably the main reason why Wayne Rooney has emerged from these revelations with his reputation relatively intact.
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