Since Rooney surpassed Sir Bobby Charlton to eclipse the all-time England goal scoring record, praise has been hard to come by for the 29-year-old. The majority of critics do appreciate the enormity of Rooney’s achievement, however they do so as mere comfort to the Man United forward.
If anything, this new record has allowed the footballing world to heap more praise onto the ageing shoulders of Sir Bobby Charlton. As a World Cup winner, Charlton is a doyen in the English game, and he will always be remembered.
Rooney overtaking Charlton has simply reminded everyone that he is not as good as Charlton. It’s an easy comparison to make; both players represent an important part of England and Manchester United footballing history, and Rooney looks set to break Charlton’s scoring record at United too.
At 29 Rooney is still very young to be breaking such records, and it’s not unrealistic to think he can reach upwards of 70 goals for England, which would put him up there with Pele and Klose for international goals scored.
In Rooney’s defence, the Evertonian has played under four different England managers, whereas Charlton had fellow World Cup winner Ramsey by his side for the majority of his career. Not only this but Charlton’s playing days took place when teams were only allowed one substitute, thus guaranteeing that every appearance he made was 90 minutes long unlike Rooney.
Both players’ stats match up almost identically, with Rooney scoring 50 goals in 107 games and Charlton scoring 49 goals in 106 games. This equates to the same goals per game ratio, so how do you split between the two?
Most people have opted to focus on Rooney’s poor Word Cup record, and it’s true, one goal in 11 World Cup appearances isn’t great. However, Rooney still has at least one more World Cup left to play (assuming England qualify), so let’s compare World Cup stats when both players’ have no further World Cup fixtures to play.
However, the Man United captain has a far better record at the European Championships with five goals in six games, a record that is better than Charlton’s, so it’s not all bad for Rooney.
For the last ten years Rooney has carried the goal-scoring burden for England virtually on his own. So we should cut the boy some slack until his records shop closes, when he finally hangs up his boots.
It is very easy to judge and glorify Charlton’s achievements because he is retired. For Rooney his performances are still under scrutiny week in week out. Only when he retires will we truly appreciate Rooney’s new goal-scoring record, but until that day comes he’ll remain in Charlton’s shadow, despite having more goals and a slightly less disastrous haircut.