Wayne Rooney has been legitimately criticised in the past for many things. In a one-month period between August and September in 2010, he was photographed urinating in the street on the way home from a night out, spotted brazenly smoking cigarettes and was forced to publicly apologise to his wife Coleen after being caught cheating on her with another woman. Further back in 2004, Rooney admitted he had slept with prostitutes whilst a young player at Everton.
Rooney Boozing Saga Overblown
This latest round of headlines on the front pages of Britain’s tabloids crying the latest ‘Rooney Boozing Saga’ showing Rooney in an England training top, bleary eyed at 5am, whilst in what is usually described as ‘a tired and emotional state’, does not reflect well on the him, that is for sure. But, put into actual context, all he’s done is celebrate a victory.
Sunday following the match against Scotland was a day off for the squad and as such, the players were allowed to have a night out with family and friends, even being allowed to stay in another location if they wished.
Players that were in the bar at their team hotel mingled well with guests politely posing for photographs with fans and were well behaved whilst enjoying their night off. The fact that FA staff were with them in the bar demonstrates that this was a sanctioned evening activity and not some rogue drinking session behind the manager’s back.
The most disappointing thing for Rooney and his team-mates is that after having been approachable and amenable to the fans in the hotel—something that modern day players are often derided for not being—their good spirit and openness was rewarded by someone selling their selfie to The Sun newspaper for a quick buck. Rest assured that England players won’t be making that mistake again.
Squad Players Night Out
Further reports spotted ten England players in a nightclub until 4am Sunday morning, celebrating the victory over the Auld enemy. Again, the fact that they were having a night out and not causing any trouble seems to have gone unnoticed, but England players enjoying themselves before going home without much trouble doesn’t sell newspapers.
Modern Day Sportsmen
The argument can be made that sportsmen and women shouldn’t be drinking any alcohol at any time throughout their careers. The approach shown by ex-England and current Liverpool player James Milner is held up as an example of how the modern sportsman should live his life. Milner has famously never drunk alcohol as he views total dedication to his career as being more important.
On the flipside, England’s best tournament performance of this generation was in 1996 after some rather more infamous team bonding on a pre-tournament trip. The consequence; Paul Gascoigne’s goal at Wembley followed by the dentist’s chair celebration, great collective spirit within the team, a semi-final penalty defeat against Germany and the country united behind the England team.
As England captain, the FA’s code of conduct means that Rooney is held to a higher level of accountability than his team-mates, and by default, the setter of the example. The discussion as to whether being the captain makes him an automatic role model shall be left aside for another day.
On Wednesday, a spokesman for Rooney issued an apology to his manager, Gareth Southgate and FA Technical Director, Dan Ashworth, saying: “Naturally Wayne is sorry that pictures taken with fans have been published today. Although it was a day off for the whole squad and staff, he fully recognises that the images are inappropriate for someone in his position.”
The photos may have been unfortunate and do depict Rooney in a bad light, but the only issue here is the fact that he allowed himself to be photographed with a fan. A few relaxing drinks and not causing any trouble is no reason for the print media to go after Wayne Rooney. He may not be in stellar form, he may not be what he once was, but one thing is for sure, he doesn’t deserve criticism for having a drink with team-mates after captaining his team to victory against their oldest rival.