Is Wayne Rooney's England return worthwhile?
Via: Football.UA used under Creative Commons.
Wayne Rooney left Premier League football a legend. Goals, assists, trophies. The now 33-year-old had it all.
In June, it felt like the White Pele's best years were behind him, a move across the pond ensued. The Three Lions icon was back to his brilliant best, propelling DC United from a bottom-of-the-table team into a side that would make the post-season. Their play-off run was cut short at the first hurdle, but Rooney made it possible.
He had rediscovered that goalscoring touch while showing leadership qualities, almost carrying his side at times. His domestic campaign is now over, although Rooney will be heading home in the not too distant future.
The Manchester United hero called time on his international playing career two years ago - after becoming England's all-time top scorer with 53 goals in 119 appearances. To my surprise, the Three Lions announced that Rooney will pull on the England kit for one final time, when, quite fittingly, the United States head to Wembley in a high-profile international friendly.
What does this mean? Well, he's not back for good. It's a one-off appearance for the forward, and it is for a wonderful cause. Although the day is about Rooney playing a final game for the country that he loves, charities will benefit from the day, including the Wayne Rooney Foundation itself. The word on the street is that the famous arch will be lit up gold during the game (the colours of the Rooney charity).
The foundation is one that concentrates its efforts on helping disadvantaged children, and his constant willingness to help those who are in worse situations than he is just goes to show what a kind-hearted individual Rooney is.
Then we have England themselves. On their part, this was a classy move. It would have been easier for them to let the past stay exactly that, but credit to Gareth Southgate for bringing Rooney back for one last hurrah. In that sense, it's wonderful to see a friendly being used to honour such a global icon, and no doubt the fans in attendance will absolutely love every second that Rooney is out on that field.
Perhaps most important is what'll happen football-wise. This England team are on the up. Southgate has shown a real trust in youth, which was key to the brilliant World Cup run that the Three Lions went on. Will Rooney disrupt that flow? Will his presence back within the dressing room change the mentality? After all, he was the leader, it was his team, but there is a reason why he was no longer being selected with regularity. His performance levels dipped, quickly.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that the idea is probably better than reality. Rooney is a legend, he should be honoured, he was given that opportunity when he decided to hang up his international boots a couple of years ago. Sure, it'll be great to see him back wearing England colours, for sentiment more than anything, but football-wise, it won't change much. I think that he has had his day. Why not make the game about his charity, but have him in attendance as a special guest rather than a player? I'm just not a fan of old wounds being re-opened, so to speak.
No doubt it'll be a fantastic day for him and his family, and something they'll never forget, but whether you agree with it or not, England have moved on...