People often ask me why I supported Man United, seeing that they have been in a turmoil in recent times and no longer the powerful force they were once.
Although I did love Ronaldinho (Still do!) and watched a little bit of football here and there, anybody who knew me would know how much I was into cricket a few years back and some of them are still surprised in the way my interest changed drastically and all of a sudden I am this new football crazy Man United fan.
So the above question of why Man United is a bit tricky. I suppose there were quite a few reasons; the history of this beautiful club, the number of world class players that emerged from or developed at the club , the way it was the only English club providing constant challenge in the Europe scenery.
But if I had to pick one reason of the many, I would have to go back and point out to the event that changed everything for me, way back in the twelfth of February , 2011.
Manchester United hosted city rivals Manchester City on the mentioned date in what was , as I later found out, a potential title decider (This match was also coincidentally my first complete Manchester United match I saw on TV).
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 9, 2017
In a tight, tense and even affair, Portuguese winger Nani fired United into the lead at the end of the first half, only for City to pull level after 62 minutes thanks to David Silva’s shot taking a lucky deflection off Edin Dzeko’s back.
The game seemed destined for a draw, which, in truth, would have been a pretty fair outcome for both sides . At least that’s what my then extremely limited football knowledge told me . And then..
The player, Nani, crossed the ball into the penalty box.
An United player, I assumed him to be the striker, recognized that the ball was falling behind him and instead of attempting to take a touch and lay it off for someone, leapt into the air and dispatched the ball into the top corner of City’s goal with a spectacular and acrobatic bicycle kick.
I still remember what I felt at the moment as though it was just yesterday. I was stunned.
I was over-awed. I mean, I didn’t know such things could happen in football. I fell in love with the guy who did it, I had to find out more about him. And his name, as I found out, was Wayne Mark Rooney.
I remember being obsessed with this guy and the club, determined to know everything about them, which soon made me realize that I just found my favourite club and probably my favourite player (and my love for football, obviously. I mean, duh!).
What set Wayne apart from the rest of the great players of his generation , was his unselfishness.
He is, and always has been someone who found it more important to contribute to his team’s triumph than focus on his individual performances and goals.
I always maintained that Rooney deserves some credit for the player Ronaldo is today.
While Ronaldo went around showcasing his world class ability to the footballing world, Wayne quietly went about his work, enjoying a telepathic relationship with Cristiano and at the same time scoring quite a few himself.
Even when Tevez and Berbatov came into the line up, Rooney often sacrificed his favourite position and dropped deeper in order to accomodate them all, and even then he has scored a lot himself, yet again.
He even continued to perform the same role when the heavyweights left Old Trafford. making way for Hernandez and local boy Danny Welbeck to the line up.
And then, of course, the Van Persie effect in 2012. It’s been somewhat unfortunate for Rooney that Van Persie’s had such an extraordinary season.
Rooney’s record in terms of goals and assists isn’t far off Robin’s – a goal every 109 minutes versus a goal every 106 minutes. In any other season, Rooney’s record in front of goal would be competitive for the top scorer spot in the league.
But of late, his role in the club has become quite different to what he is used to perform.
His touches became heavy, his passes became wayward. Yet he made up for all these with tackles, interceptions, blocks, clearances etc.
Statistics will never show you that; will never show how much Wayne has sacrificed for his club, even if it sometimes did frustrate him.
Rooney’s somewhat fallen victim to his own unselfishness. The fact he’s so able to perform admirably in various roles has lead to inconsistent use at United over the past few seasons which has evidently played some role in his remarkable decline.
And in spite of all this, he is now England’s and United’s all time leading goalscorer. This says a lot about the man.
There’s often another question that arise when it comes to Rooney. Has he fulfilled the potential he showed as a teenager both at Everton and United?
His talent was showcased on the international scene nearly 13 years ago at Euro 2004 and reaffirmed that he was one of the hottest prospects in world football.
If you ask me, no. Rooney has not. He was destined for even greater things, if only Rooney had been a bit more selfish like the rest of the greats of his generation, including the likes of Messi and Cristiano among the rest.
Yes, he had more than once considered leaving the club and in fact had placed a transfer request way back in 2009 for being frustrated about United’s lack of quality transfer business after losing Tevez and Cristiano.
Yes, he had flirted with the idea of moving to Chelsea or Manchester City. But none can question the passion with which he played for United and for all he has done for the club.
And for me, that’s why he is one of United’s greatest players of all time . It’s like what Gary Neville said.
Wayne will get the true appreciation and respect that he so richly deserves only when he retires from the game.
From a young aggressive fearless young boy to a matured leader, Wayne Rooney has come a long way.
Having won it all with England’s most successful club, 5 Premier League Titles, 1 Champions League, 1 Fa Cup, 4 League Cup, 1 Club World Cup, 1 Europa League and 5 Community Shield, Rooney is now hoping to finish off the rest of his career at the club where it all began.
It’s a difficult pill to swallow for a lot of us, but I personally feel it’s the right move for Wayne as he is a sort of player who needs constant game time and with the World Cup approaching, he will look to set his career back on track with Everton.
Good luck, Wayne!
And for one final time,
” Saw my mate , the other day
He said to me he’d seen the white pele.
So I asked “Who is he?”
He goes by the name of Wayne Rooney.
Wayne Rooney, Wayne Rooney
He goes by the name of Wayne Rooney.”
And I cannot help it . I break down, tears strolling down my cheeks uncontrollably while I sing it to myself as I write.
For never in my wildest dreams I would have imagined I would be writing this. For never in my wildest imaginations have I never imagined a Manchester United team without Wayne Rooney.
For in the world of Lionel Messis and Cristiano Ronaldos, you will always be my hero and the most complete footballer of this generation.
Thank you for everything. It is truly the end of an era.