When Wayne Rooney burst onto the scene as a fresh-faced teenager he looked set to take the world by storm and certainly did so for several years, but now pundits and fans are starting to questioning his position in the national team, despite the star striker being Roy Hodgson’s chosen captain.
The Manchester United forward became England’s top goal scorer in September, after passing Bobby Charlton’s record of 49 goals, but the captain’s performances at major tournaments have come under scrutiny since he stunned the world with an impressive showing at Euro 2004.
England’s impressive comeback against world champions Germany gave further thought to the theory that England might be better off without the captain in the starting eleven.
With the likes of Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy scoring goals for fun this season, and Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck working their way back from long-term injuries, Rooney’s place in the team could be in doubt.
England manager Roy Hodgson has largely denied this and, barring any injury on the eve of the tournament, Rooney is expected to be leading the national team out at Euro 2016, with Hodgson saying “It doesn’t please me too much that it is suggested now that the moment he is injured and doesn’t play he gets jettisoned in some way. He doesn’t deserve that.”
Though Rooney’s form has been suspect over the past few seasons he still has the class and talent that propelled him into the football world. However, he has been played in several positions for Manchester United over recent years, including centre-mid, on the wing and as a number 10, and as a result his performances have stuttered.
Rooney led England to 10 wins from 10 in qualifying, which bodes well for the Three Lions ahead of an exciting summer tournament in France, though they have been in that situation before and failed when the real event starts.
With the young English talent impressing against Germany the future looks bright for England. Tottenham trio Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Danny Rose all came through the victory in Berlin with glowing praise and Leicester striker Jamie Vardy equalised with a delightful backheel finish.
As England’s young lions look to take on the tournament in France with no fear, is there truly a place for England’s captain or is Roy Hodgson forcing Rooney into a team he simply does not suit?
Images from Sky Sports and the Daily Express