FIFA World Cup: 10 Things You Need To Know about Wayne Rooney
With the World Cup now just three weeks away it's time for an in depth look at one of the potential stars of the tournament.
Wayne Rooney will head to South Africa with the hopes of a nation on his shoulders after a spectacular individual season which saw him walk off with both PFA Player of the Year and Football Writer's Player of the Year awards.
Read on to learn more about the man that England hope can fire them to success for the first time since 1966.
He’s Just Had His Most Prolific Season Ever
Rooney was edged out in the end by Didier Drogba for the Premier League Golden Boot as the Chelsea struck a hat-trick against Wigan on the last day of the season.
However, the 2009/2010 season was still a personal best for Rooney who ended up with 26 Premier League goals, smashing his previous best of 16 from the 2005-2006 campaign.
It was also a huge improvement in all competitions with Rooney ending the season with 34 in all competitions, 11 more than he managed in his previous highest scoring year 2006-2007.
He Was Second Top Scorer in World Cup Qualifying
England scored 34 in their ten qualifying games, more than anyone else in Europe.
Rooney got nine of them in his nine appearances and finished second behind Theofanis Gekas, who notched ten for Greece. Edin Dzeko of Bosnia also scored nine.
Rooney didn’t score in seven appearances in qualifying for 2006 and didn’t find the net in any of his four games at the final tournament in Germany. He will be hoping that his impressive record in qualifying carries on to South Africa this summer.
He’s Due A Break From Injuries In Major Tournaments
This summer’s World Cup in South Africa will be Rooney’s third major tournament for England but neither of the previous two have gone according to plan with one of the key parallels between both being injuries.
Bursting onto the scene as an 18-year old with four goals in three group games in Euro 2004, Rooney lasted less than half an hour of the quarter-final against hosts Portugal before being forced off with a broken metatarsal.
Rooney’s tournament was over and England’s was an hour and a half later as Portugal defeated them on penalties.
Two years later and Rooney’s right foot was again the problem, this time before the tournament even begun as he fractured another metatarsal against Chelsea in April.
Sven Goran Eriksson still included a recovering Rooney in his squad to take to Germany. He missed the first game before appearing as a late substitute against Trinidad and Tobago.
From there he started each of England’s subsequent games against Sweden, Ecuador and Portugal without quite looking 100%.
Rooney struggled through the last few weeks of Manchester United’s season with ankle and groin injuries and will hope both are fully cleared up by June 12.
He's An Impressive Scorer For The Three Lions
After a prolific couple of years under Fabio Capello, Rooney now stands 12th on England’s all time top scorers list with 25 goals in 58 caps.
He requires just two more to go level with David Platt in tenth place. From there he would only need three more to reach the 30 goal mark and join the illustrious names of Sir Tom Finney, Nat Lofthouse and Alan Shearer in joint-five place.
With two friendlies and at least three games (hopefully more) to come in South Africa, Rooney could make some significant progress up the goalscoring charts in the next month.
He Likes The Number 10 Shirt
Rooney switched from the number 8 shirt to his preferred number 10 shirt for the start of the 2007-2008 season at Manchester United after it became available following the departure of Ruud van Nistelrooy to Real Madrid.
The switch has proved fruitful as Rooney strike rate has improved from 40% in the three seasons wearing No 8 to 53% in his three seasons in the No 10 shirt.
It’s been a similar tale wearing the No 10 for England.
Rooney wore the No 9 shirt for England as part of his partnership with Michael Owen, who had the No 10.
Wearing the number 9 Rooney struck 18 goals in 42 games for a strike rate of 43% but has been able to wear the No 10 under Fabio Capello and has scored 7 in 11 wearing it, a strike rate of 64%.
Rooney will hope that he can join the illustrious ranks of Pele, Diego Maradona and Zinedine Zidane who previously enjoyed great success wearing the No 10 at World Cups.
He Hasn’t Scored In A World Cup...Yet
Rooney just about made it to the last World Cup in Germany four years ago despite suffering a foot injury mere weeks before the tournament.
His continued recovery meant that he missed England’s first game of the finals, a narrow win over Paraguay.
He returned as a late substitute as England struggled to break the deadlock against Trinidad and Tobago, entering the fray with the score at 0-0 just before the hour. Late goals from Crouch and Gerrard saw England triumph in the end.
Rooney then started the final group game against Sweden and came off with twenty minutes left having failed to find the net, something he again failed to do against Ecuador in the last-16 even though he lasted the full 90 minutes for the first time in the tournament.
The forward’s summer then ended not only goal-less but also with a red card as he was dismissed just after the hour in the quarter-final with Portugal.
He Now Takes Penalties
Having bided his time while first Ruud van Nistelrooy and then Cristiano Ronaldo took responsibility from 12-yards, the duty now belongs to Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford.
Having missed both of his penalties in prior seasons he scored four out of five penalties he took in the Premier League this season.
The only time he missed was when his first-half effort was saved by Liverpool’s Pepe Reina, although Rooney was on hand to score from the rebound.
He has yet to take a penalty for England, but would arguably be second-choice after Frank Lampard in normal play now and definitely one of the first five for a penalty shoot-out.
He Has Never Scored Against Tim Howard
Rooney will most likely need to accomplish something new on June 12 if England are to succeed in their first game against the USA.
The Manchester United and England striker hasn’t managed to score against his old club Everton for the past three seasons since Tim Howard made the move to Goodison Park.
Rooney will come face to face with Howard once more in Rustenburg, and will hope to break this particular duck against his former teammate who, bizarrely, has managed the opposite and scored against Rooney. Well, in training at least!
He’s Been England Fans Player of the Year For The Last Two Years
Rooney’s surge of form since the appointment of Fabio Capello as England manager has resulted in him being voted England Fans Player of the Year for both 2008 and 2009.
The England superstar netted six goals in nine games in 2009 and scored five in eight appearances in 2008 to claim the fan awarded prize.
With the 2010 accolade all but certain to go to England’s key performer this summer Rooney could claim a hat-trick of awards if he can carry on his superb form this season into South Africa.
He Prefers Playing With Heskey...Or Does He?
Much is made of Rooney’s partnership with Emile Heskey, and it’s true that they did perform very well together during the World Cup Qualifiers.
The two had never been paired together under previous England managers, but under Capello they have played together 11 times and struck six goals between them in those games, five for Rooney. They average a goal between them every 105 minutes.
When paired with Defoe under Capello the pair have scored three (two for Defoe) in nine matches but these have been shorter appearances and the average compares well to that of Rooney-Heskey, with a goal coming every 109 minutes on average.
However, it is when paired with Peter Crouch that Rooney has the most impressive stats. In eight games together under Capello, the pair has scored seven goals (four for Rooney, three for Crouch) at an impressive rate of a goal every 38 minutes.
Sadly for Darren Bent, the only other forward included in England’s provisional 30-man squad, he has only played once with Rooney and both failed to find the net last November, although they were playing against Brazil.