Sunday 22 January 2017

Record breaking Rooney stands alone as one of the greats

United skipper Wayne Rooney eclipsed Sir Bobby with his 250th club goal at Stoke and he now stands alone in club history. Rooney, so often United's fulcrum since he was signed by Sir Alex as a teenager from Everton, has had to make do with a bit part role under Jose Mourinho this term. 

In his 546th club outing, Rooney surpassed Sir Bobby's record that has stood since 1973 - 212 games fewer than the great man himself reached his seemingly unbeaten mark. In the process, he has filled a variety of roles during his time at the club: the teenage wild card, Cristiano Ronaldo's partner-in-crime, senior pro club captain, all-action midfielder, number ten, right winger, makeshift full back and the last survivor of the Ferguson empire.

Having become England's all time leading scorer in 2015, Rooney reached his record-breaking moment in style. 

Like so many of his other decisive moments, it came when we needed it most with his penchant for the spectacular in evidence again here.

There was THAT overhead kick against City in 2011, his anger-fuelled volley against Newcastle in 2005 and the halfway line goal at West Ham in 2014. 

We saw the superlative lob against Portsmouth in the FA Cup in 2007 and the sensational counter-attacking goal against Bolton in the same season, sprinting the length of the field alongside Ronaldo. 

His critics will argue that he never hit the heights with England, that despite being the all-time top scorer for our country, Rooney failed to contribute on the big stage at major tournaments.

After his breakthrough tournament in 2004 at the Euros, Rooney only scored once at a major finals (against Uruguay in 2010), but even the best players of our generation have failed to hit the heights on the international stage.

Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard were unable to turn their stellar club exploits into England success and even Lionel Messi has arguably underachieved during his time with Argentina. 

Deep into stoppage time with United 1-0 down and hoping to preserve a 17-match unbeaten run at Stoke, a free-kick wide on the left looked to be the visitors last chance.  Rooney looked prime to cross but instead unleashed a wonderful, dipping and swerving right-footed shot that left the previously unbeatable Lee Grant with no chance.

It was right up there with his very best United goals and a fitting way to reach the milestone. Rooney has won everything there is to win the English game in a United career littered with goals, silverware and match-changing brilliance. He deserves more credit for what he's achieved in a wonderfully highly decorated career.

Congratulations skipper!

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