On a night in which England prevailed over a highly-touted Switzerland side, Wayne Rooney stole the show as he passed Bobby Charlton on the all-time goal scoring list for the England national team.
Rooney netted his 50th career goal for the Three Lions from the penalty spot in the second half of the key 2016 European Championship qualification tilt. Rooney, who has often spoken about his disbelief that he is so near such a massive feat, was presented with a number 50 jersey by England manager Roy Hodgson in the dressing room after the game. After being roundly applauded by teammates as they approached the locker room after the match, the England captain appeared both relieved and thrilled with his achievement.
The man Rooney passed, Charlton, was gracious in his congratulations offered to Rooney. Although disappointed with ceding the record, Charlton was pleased that a man who not only played for England, but also captained his club Manchester United, was the one to take the crown. Making a high-profile move from Everton to Manchester United in 2004, Rooney in addition to being much-maligned in England, has long been tipped to break the record. His confidence at times has wilted for club and country, but Rooney now leads the line in terms of all-time English strikers. Rooney still lacks the World Cup triumph that Charlton has, but will use this momentum to propel himself, and his English side into Euro 2016, and the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Rooney is one of many wondering how high he can take the goal-scoring mark before his playing days are done.
While he battles domestically to return Manchester United to the top of the Premier League table, Rooney’s role with the national team has evolved from young upstart, to captain, to now a role of elder statesman and mentor to a collection of young and talented players. Highly-rated English youngsters such as Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), and Ross Barkley (Everton) are looking up to Rooney to learn how to be a world-class player each day they are able to train together. Rooney takes this responsibility seriously, and certainly doesn’t appear to be resting on his laurels as major competitions approach for both club and country. Rooney can only build on his current legend in these upcoming events.