Jordan Chamberlain – Editor of Empire of the Kop – @Jordan_AC90
Any Liverpool fan with an ounce of self respect should publicly and privately despise Wayne Rooney.
The Everton supporting Toffee graduate moved to our even bitterer rivals Manchester United in 2004 – confirming himself, if he hadn’t already, as an enemy of Anfield.
His unprovoked quotes in 2009, where he declared his hatred for Liverpool strengthened this – as have his O.T.T celebrations every time he scores against us.
And it’s been easy to hate (but mainly mock) Rooney back. He’s funny looking, lacks a demonstrable IQ and according to the tabloids, slept with prostitutes.
Simply, Rooney is the anti-hero.
Or at least he should be.
But when he scored his 50th goal for England last night, becoming the country’s record goalscorer, I felt… indifferent?
Many Liverpool fans sulked online as the likes of Joe Gomez (who’s playing Rooney on Saturday), Jordan Henderson and club legends Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher tweeted Rooney congratulations – but it didn’t offend me.
It didn’t stir up any emotions. No hatred, no bitterness, no jealousy.
And I think it’s because I’m relieved. Relieved that Rooney never really got that good.
Yes, the record books will show him as England’s top scorer and one day the record appearance maker too. But for what? He’s the person that turns and up scores goals during mind-numbing international breaks when everyone would rather be watching Premier League football.
And fair play to him for that continued dedication to his country. But again, for what? At proper tournaments, bar his Euro 2004 hot patch, Rooney’s been genuinely awful.
For Liverpool fans, this is schadenfreude. Or at least a silver lining in the perpetual grey cloud of supporting England. (Steven Gerrard’s occasionally strong Three Lions performance being the other one.)
For United – he’s scored 170 Premier League goals – but he’s coasted. Twice in 11 full campaigns he’s bettered 30 goals. Exceptional in 2009/10 and 2011/12. A solid, strong contributor elsewhere.
But he could have been so, so much more.
When Rooney signed for Sir Alex Ferguson, I was scared. Watching this fireball of energy, talent and ferocity was a sight to behold when he burst on the scene. Versus Turkey in 2003, Rooney continuously picked up the ball on the halfway line and ran at defenders. He skinned them alive. For fun. He was loving it. It was too easy. It was before the great Argentine’s time, but looking back now, it was ‘Messi-esque’. And that’s as high a praise as can be given in modern football. Aged 18, Rooney was head and shoulders above his international counterparts. But I haven’t seen Rooney run with the ball in over five years, and he’s not yet 30.
I’m not scared of Rooney anymore and haven’t been for a long time. No Liverpool fan should be.
Rooney could have been anything he wanted to be, and I’m relieved that an Everton supporting Scouse Manchester United forward never went on to fulfil his talent – as if he had – he’d have caused us endless grief this Century. And he hasn’t. Not really.
In 2011, wind-up merchant Adrian Durham held a phone-in on talkSPORT, asking whether Rooney was as good as, or better than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Naturally, he got the nibbles he was fishing for – but in 2004 – you’d have backed the Englishman to become the best of the three. How crazy does that sound now?
But Wayne Rooney does deserve plaudits and congratulations from the footballing world. His achievement is undeniable, and any discussions on just how much he’s actually accomplished when you take ‘San Marino’ and ‘Lithuania’ into account are boring. He’s done it, broken the record. Job done.
As a Liverpool fan though, the reason I can join in with those congratulations is because I don’t hate him. I’m indifferent to Wayne Rooney. And I don’t hate him because he let us off the hook.