It’s the end of an era – Wayne Rooney has retired from international football and won’t be pulling the England shirt over that barrel chest ever again.
Some say he’s been a controversial figure but they’re wrong: Rooney has been a throwback to football’s wilder eras, a hugely entertaining presence in a time where players are hermetically sealed in bubbles blown by joyless PRs with their rules, regulations and damage limitation obsession.
Here’s my tribute to the Gammon King himself, looking back at some of his golden moments.
THAT POST-SCOTLAND CELEBRATION BENDER
Is it really less than a year since Wazza got wankered in a Watford hotel after England had beaten Scotland 3-0 at Wembley? Sure is – and that marathon session was nothing if not a testament to his leadership skills.
Wearing his England shirt, he posed for pics with members of a wedding party while knocking back beer and red wine until around 5am – long after his teammates had sloped off to bed in case the late night and vat of booze interfered with their dull ‘fitness regimes’.
— AS English (@English_AS) November 16, 2016
THAT ‘LITTLE GIRL’ FIGHTING TWEET
When it comes to Twitter, Wayne’s no Donald Trump, but he’s had a handful of glorious social media moments over the years. On one occasion, some random joe (it’s really not important who) had given Wayne a bit of Twitter aggro, to which the great man replied:
@WayneRooney I'll put u asleep within 10 seconds u little girl. Don't say stuff and not follow up on it. I'll be waiting
— Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) May 17, 2011
Problem is that he replied directly to himself rather than to his baiter. Either that or it was some kind of distressed internal conversation that he’d mistakenly made public.
THAT WHITNEY HOUSTON TWEET
When Princess Diana was killed in a car crash in 1997, Prime Minister Tony Blair coined the phrase ‘people’s princess’ in tribute to her. When Whitney Houston died in the bath in 2012, Wayne Rooney was one of the most high-profile Twitter mourners.
Whitney has passed away. RIP u will live on forever. Cant believe it. I wanna run to u. Really cant believe this. @
— Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) February 12, 2012
No one says ‘people’s princess’ any more, but everyone’s still massively all over ‘wanna run to u’ whenever someone close to us goes, right? RIGHT!
THAT HAIR TRANSPLANT
Baldness can do terrible things to certain blokes’ confidence, and when you’re the England skipper, you don’t need little voices in your head telling you that you’re becoming less of a man because your hair prefers hanging out the plug hole in the bath instead of atop your bonce.
That’s why Wayne tackled the problem head on (so to speak) and proudly announced to the world that he’d had his forehead drilled open and bits of his wiry back hair rammed into the holes.
(Okay, I might have got some of the fine details wrong there).
A stigma blasted away for millions of men everywhere who’ve got a delicate ego, a few grand to spare and no hair.
THAT PHIL BARDSLEY KITCHEN KO
Everyone knows that a cracking night in always beats a cracking night out. But when one of the cracks is to the jaw of your pal, rendering him lifeless on the kitchen floor, well, that’s next-level good times, that is.
And if a third party is filming the impromptu play-fight on his mobile and it then gets made public, well it means that we ALL get to share in the fun.
Yes, he could have been killed by Bardsley. But he wasn’t, so shut the fuck up, losers and killjoys.
Sadly, there’s no evidence of Rooney wrestling naked in his conservatory with an oiled-up Marouane Fellaini, but we can always dream…
THAT TIME HE SLAGGED OFF THE ENGLAND FANS
Multi-millionaire footballers sometimes get unrelenting stick from the supporters who pay their wages, but it doesn’t always have to be one-way traffic. After a deathly dull 0-0 draw with Algeria that was accompanied by a chorus of boos from England fans, Wayne spewed his raw feelings straight into a TV camera as he walked off the pitch.
“Nice to see your own fans booing you, you football ‘supporters’,” he said, which only added further fuel to the fire.
It was dead funny though.
THAT TIME HE ALMOST KILLED SOMEONE WITH THE FA CUP LID
Shortly after lifting the FA Cup for Manchester United after beating Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace (remember Pardew’s dance?), Wayne and Michael Carrick let the trophy lid slip from their grasp and it tumbled from the Royal Box down into the lower tier.
Miraculously, no one was injured and the lid was a bit bent but by Christ, it’s textbook Rooney.
THAT BRILLIANT FOOTBALL STUFF
Manchester United and England’s all-time leading goalscorer. More caps and medals than you could stuff into a sack. A decade and a half at the very top, and STILL doing the business back where he started at Everton. Sure, he never lit up an international tournament, but it was never his job to do it single-handed. The England squad already feels that little bit duller now that he’s said goodbye to it.
Cheers, Wazza – you were never dull.