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|Birthday||October 24, 1985|
Despite a disappointing World Cup in South Africa, Rooney is still undoubtedly viewed as one of the best players in the world. The Manchester United striker has been firmly in the spotlight since first breaking into the England side aged 17 and has the potential to stay at the top of the game for years to come.
Having worked his way through the Everton academy, a 16-year-old Rooney shot to the world’s attention with a stunning goal against Arsenal in 2002 and showed skill beyond his years before Manchester United signed him for around £30 million after the 2004 European Championships – in which he had played a starring role.
The powerful frontman made an immediate impact with a hat-trick on his debut – a Champions League victory over Fenerbache in September 2004 – and went on to help United to three straight Premier League titles between 2006-2009, while also collecting numerous personal awards.
The 2009-10 season represented the pinnacle of Rooney’s goalscoring career to date, as he plundered 34 goals in 42 games in all competitions for United. Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Real Madrid allowed Rooney to flourish as he became the focal point of the Old Trafford attack, and he spearheaded United’s forward line in style. Rooney scored the winning goal in the 2010 Carling Cup final and though United missed out on domestic and European glory, he was rewarded for an impressive campaign with the PFA Players’ Player of the Year Award.
In September 2008, Rooney became the youngest player in league history to make 200 appearances but after poor form and a tabloid scandal after the 2010 World Cup, he admitted he wanted to leave Manchester United. It took just three days for him to perform a U-turn though, committing his future to the club until 2015 amid a media melee, and sealing another title at the end of the season.
Strengths: Powerful and strong on the ball, Rooney’s ability to pick a pass, shoot from distance and unselfishly work for the team is unparalleled in world football. His passion can never been called into question.
Weaknesses: He suffers when the red mist descends and has a propensity to lose his cool in key games. Sometimes an impetuous customer, prone to easy frustration.
Career high: His stunning debut hat-trick for Manchester United is a strong contender, but it cannot top being named as the best player in the country by his fellow professionals, as he scooped the PFA Players’ Player of the Year Award in for the 2009-10 season.
Career low: Being sent off against Portugal in the 2006 World Cup for stamping on a rather delicate area of Ricardo Carvalho’s, after working so hard to be fit for the tournament following a metatarsal injury.
Style: Powerful, hard-working, passionate; an unselfish superstar.
Quotes: “We all know football players at the top level are blessed with high wages, it’s no secret. But Rooney would play for 100 euros-a-week. You can see the fire in his eyes. It’s that fire which makes him the best of the best.” 2009 World Player of the Year Lionel Messi praises Rooney’s passion.
Trivia: Rooney has “Just Enough Education To Perform” tattooed on his right forearm. The line is the title of an album by his favourite band, The Stereophonics.