Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Roo Can Be the Greatest ; United Striker Closes in Charlton's England Record but Warns Poland Will Offer a Threat

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Roo Can Be the Greatest ; United Striker Closes in Charlton's England Record but Warns Poland Will Offer a Threat

Article excerpt

THAT'S 37 England goals and counting for Wayne Rooney. Not bad for a player so often accused of not producing for his country. Not bad to for someone who Sir Alex Ferguson began to regard more of a midfielder than a striker last season. Rooney went into Friday's crucial World Cup qualifier with Montenegro declaring that he wanted to become the first Englishman to score 50 international goals. He's not there yet, but for the Three Lions should go some way to debunking the myth that the United striker has underperformed for England.

For Rooney the constant questioning has become a way of life. Has he failed to live up to his potential or maximised a natural talent that was overestimated from the start? He had clearly become a frustration to Ferguson in the retired United manager's final season in charge at Old Trafford - left out of the biggest game of the season against Real Madrid, and forced watch the Premier League champions' title celebrations from the stands in May.

Revitalised after a summer of uncertainty over his future, Rooney has been a rare highlight in David Moyes' difficult start to life at United. But regardless of what has been going on in his club career, Rooney has remained pivotal to England's cause since making his debut a decade ago. England's failings, somehow symptomatic of his own lacklustre displays in each major tournament since his first at Euro 2004. That he went into the World Cups of 2006 and 2010 on the back of metatarsal and ankle injuries respectively is conveniently overlooked by his detractors. At Euro 2012, suspension from England's opening two games - albeit as a result of his own recklessness against Montenegro in qualifying - effectively extinguished his potency in a third straight major tournament. But against Montenegro on Friday he stepped up at the perfect moment to settle Wembley's nerves, opening the scoring in a match Eng- land simply had to win.

Converting the rebound after Danny Welbeck's shot was initially saved by Vukasin Poleksic four minutes after the break, he gave Hodgson's team the platform to collect all three points, at a time when the contest was threatening to descend into a tense affair. …

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