Friday 18 August 2017 / 03:08 PM

Will Rooney be remembered as a true great?

Wayne Rooney’s sixth minute goal against Lithuania on Friday took the captain’s goal tally in an England shirt to 47; just two shy of Bobby Charlton’s record. Whatever your thoughts on Rooney, that is a tremendous achievement.

But the question is, when the dust settles, when the Man United star finally hangs up his boots, having done the inevitable and broken the record, will the striker be remembered as a true great?

At club level, the argument for ‘yes’ is a little simpler. The player has won multiple league titles, domestic cups and the Champions League. He has played a massive part in a seriously successful era for Man United.

But at international level, the answer is rather more difficult. You see, whilst Rooney has scored a lot of goals for England, the reality is that the bulk of his goals seem to have come in games just like Friday’s; games against opposition of significantly lower quality.

When it has really mattered, Rooney has sadly come up short. Not since Euro 2004, some 11 years ago, has the forward set a tournament alight. The question is, will his inability to perform when it counts have a detrimental effect on his legacy?

It seems that his boss thinks so.

Without taking anything away from Rooney, Roy Hodgson was very clear when asked to compare Rooney and Bobby Charlton about the fact that they were incomparable, saying:

“Bobby Charlton, for me, is up there on a pedestal and it will take time for any of the modern players to get up to that level…to do it [rival Charlton] a player would have to be very successful at a European Championship or World Cup as Bobby Charlton was”

It’s hard to argue with Hodgson’s point. For him, whilst goals are clearly great, they are only part of the picture. What matters most is the end product, and until Rooney can contribute towards some true English success, it seems unlikely that he will be remembered in the same breath as the team from 1966.

In short, Rooney should be proud of his achievement, whenever the inevitable arrives. But he should not fall into the trap of thinking that he’s cemented his legacy – there’s plenty of work still to do to make that happen.

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About the author

Seb Greenwood

CBS’s longest-serving contributor, Englishman Seb is our leading football correspondent, pulling no punches with his opinions on the Premier League and the international scene.

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