In this week’s Golden Boot Contenders feature Soccer Laduma looks at Wayne Rooney and discusses whether he can finally reproduce his club form in the Three Lions shirt.
Rooney is arguably the best current player in the England squad, but has often failed to impress at big tournaments.
He made his international debut as a 17-year-old in 2003, which by the time was a record later broken by Theo Walcott, and also became the youngest player to score for England.
His first major tournament was the EURO 2004, in which he became the youngest scorer in competition history, a record only four days later topped by Swiss midfielder Johan Vonlanthen.
Rooney suffered an injury in the quarter-final against Portugal, and England were eliminated on penalties. However, his four goals in four matches earned him a place in the UEFA Team of the Tournament.
At the 2006 World Cup, he was out of form following an injury in the build-up and he went scoreless as England bowed out in the quarter-finals, again on penalties against Portugal.
What many remember from the match is Rooney’s bust-up with then teammate Cristiano Ronaldo and the English strikers red card in the 62nd minute.
England failed to qualify for the EURO 2008 and had one of their worst international tournaments in South Africa 2010, scoring only three goals. England were eliminated in the round of last 16 against Germany and Rooney finished another major tournament goalless.
At the EURO 2012, Rooney was suspended for the first two group games, but scored his side’s only goal in the third group match. However, in the quarter-final the next penalty shootout defeat (against Italy) ensured another disappointing tournament.
Rooney ended the 2014 World Cup qualification campaign as England’s top scorer with seven goals and not only his national team coach, Glen Hodgson, hopes for him to finally shine at a major tournament.
At club level, Rooney proved this year that he can lead the lines even when the team doesn’t live up to the expectations, having scored 12 goals and assisted 13.
He is England’s fifth highest goal-scorer in history, scoring 38 goals in 88 caps and many expect the 28-year-old to finally explode at the 2014 World Cup.
The Three Lions surely need Rooney at his best, if they want to make it out of Group D with Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica.
Do you think Wayne Rooney could compete for the Golden Boot in Brazil? Have your say in the comment section below.