Last Tuesday, the Sun printed pictures of England captain, Wayne Rooney, drunk at a wedding after they downed Scotland in the World Cup Qualifiers.
The following day, a more detailed story emerged with more photos of Rooney looking more droopy eyed following his alleged attempt to play the piano but instead ‘hit a bum note’ and just ‘mashed’ the keys.
Since then, pundits, managers and fans alike have been arguing whether or not Rooney should have been drinking.
The popular consensus of the ‘no’ side has been; Firstly, Rooney’s form has not been the best as of late and he should be concentrating on getting back to his peak. Secondly, he is a professional athlete and drinking to excess is damaging to your body and your mind.
Both are true but completely irrelevant.
Rooney’s form has been somewhat of an underlying theme in all of the talk surrounding England and Manchester United this season. It is almost as though he systematically causes both teams to underperform simply by being on the pitch.
Rooney’s long career peaked in 2011 when he scored 27 goals in all competitions, a personal record for the Liverpool native, but since then it has plateaued and simmered to an average of 12 goals a season.
The striker’s goalscoring prowess has been in decline for several years but is this dip in form down to drinking?
A more plausible reasoning behind it is his age. Although thirty-one in the modern age isn’t ancient- Cristiano Ronaldo being the prime example of this- Rooney is not a typical modern footballer.
Rooney started his career in 2003 at the age of 16. Since then, he has essentially played at the top level of football- which has taken its toll on his body.
“We have said before he was playing at 16, so in reality terms he’s maybe like a 33 or 34-year old player”, the former Liverpool man said. “People talk about age, it’s miles on the clock and it’s games played. He must have played nearly 600 games as a centre forward, which is maybe not the same as playing in the position I did.”
“I just think that battering from centre backs and the pressure that is on him, mentally as well, to play from that age of 16- I think we are looking at a player who is getting to the stage of his career where I don’t think he will be playing at the top level at 34-35.”
“I just think he’s been playing so long now that maybe it’s 30 on his birth certificate but in terms of games played he’s a 35-year old player.” Carragher concluded.
Rooney’s body is not one of a modern footballer. Maybe a little overweight, not the fastest player anymore and he definitely does not look after himself as well as his former teammate, Ronaldo.
However, this once again comes back to the time period that Rooney started his career- The culture of football was different which Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp eluded to.
“All the guys, all the legends we love and admire drank like devils and smoked like crazy but they were still good players.” the German said.
Rooney’s career as a top player is essentially over, he is no longer a top striker, that is clear to be seen. However, this does not erase the years that he was one of the best in the world.
Finally, you have to question what Rooney is first and foremost. Is he a human being or is he a professional footballer?
With so much media attention on himself and his personal life, his form etc. perhaps it all became too much for him and he needed to lash out?
Or perhaps he just felt like celebrating a good 3-0 win over his international rivals? The reasoning behind it is only known to Rooney himself, and when he apologised that should have been the end of the matter.
But the media wheel keeps on turning, and the question remains- what will power this wheel when Rooney retires?… I think Jack Grealish might have went on the lash actually.