Bacon’s Bites: Rooney for England... Really? And if you were Raheem, would you have owned up?
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MIKE BACON takes a look at the inclusion of Wayne Rooney in the England squad and also asks... If you were Raheem would you have owned up?
It’s received a mixed reception – I can’t say I’m surprised.
England, and Gareth Southgate’s, decision to include the ‘retired from international football’ Wayne Rooney in the England squad for next week’s friendly fixture against the USA has been viewed by some with joy, some with surprise, others with horror!
The intention is not to start Rooney, but to bring him on, so he wins his 120th England cap and maybe add to his record 53-goal England haul against a country he now plies his trade in.
And here’s the important thing.
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The game has been earmarked to raise funds for the Wayne Rooney Foundation, which is seeking to generate over £500,000 for various children’s charities – including the NSPCC.
However... That hasn’t appeased everyone. And I get why.
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Representing your country in sport is the pinnacle of a sportsperson’s career. It matters not what sport we are talking about.
From football to rugby, netball to cycle speedway, hockey to table tennis, swimming to archery, ten-pin bowling to snooker.
If you are picked for your country in the sport you excel, it is likely because you are at your very best.
All that training, all that effort, all that travelling, all those dreams... Realised as you stand and hear your national anthem being played.
I understand the sentiment behind the whole Rooney thing and yes, the former Man U striker has been a credit to himself while playing for his country, rarely pulling out of squads with injury, as so many have done in the past, as well of course being a record goal scorer.
He’s also playing well for his US side, DC United.
But does all that make it right that he pulls on an England shirt almost two years after retiring from the national game, just to ‘honour him’.
Hasn’t his time come – and gone.
Rooney has been quoted as saying that it would be a “particularly special moment” and that he hopes to pass on some of his experience to the squad while training with them.
No-one doubts those sentiments.
But this is about representing your country in an international match, not a trip back to the first League club that gave you a chance – just to say thanks.
Geoff Hurst won 49 England caps.
Cynics will suggest he’s wheeled out for a jog-on part in the final 30 seconds of a friendly against Iceland or Japan sometime in the future, so he can win his 50th England cap?
Yes, I know, that’s ridiculous.
But can you say where it stops?
“I think there are better ways to do it,” said England’s record appearance maker Peter Shilton.
“We could have a presentation on the pitch. I think if he was picked on merit, fair enough. But I don’t think you can give caps out like gifts.
“You have got to be careful it doesn’t set a precedent.”
Many will agree with Shilton. Many will shout out, ‘bah, humbug!’
Personally, I believe representing your country should always be judged on current, not past glories. Misty-eyed memories should be just that.
Then again, perhaps we should all just let it go this once, enjoy the occasion and hope Rooney’s charities benefit greatly.
Now, would you have jumped up and told the referee you had tripped over your own feet and it wasn’t a penalty?
That was the dilemma facing Raheem Sterling on Wednesday night as his calamitous fall when clean through on goal should have resulted in nothing more than a good giggle all round,
Sadly, referee Viktor Kassai never saw it and thought it was a penalty, in the Champions League clash with Shakhtar Donestk – which of course it never was.
What is it with Sterling?
Controversy simple follows him around. Of all the players in the City team that had to happen too, it had to be him.
Again the Sterling haters had a field day.
‘He should have owned up’. ‘He should have told Jesus to miss the penalty’. Oh my goodness just leave him alone.
It wasn’t his fault the ref and his 114 assistants didn’t see it and VAR was... Well where was it?
He couldn’t win.
If he had owned up and Shakhtar had gone on to win 2-1 (it was only 1-0 at the time), everyone would have pilloried him. Or, knowing Sterling’s luck, if he had tapped the ref on the shoulder and said it wasn’t a penalty, he would have probably got a red card for ‘hitting the ref’.
There will be plenty of genuine penalties that won’t go Sterling and Man City’s way in the years ahead.
Move on everyone.