As Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney settles into his place as one of England’s greatest soccer players, the accolades keep coming in following his record-breaking performance on September 8 versus Switzerland. For those who don’t know yet, Rooney blasted a penalty shot past the Swiss goalkeeper for his 50th goal in international competition while playing for The Three Lions, England’s national team. The goal broke the long standing record of 49 set 45 years ago by English soccer great Sir Bobby Charlton.
Among those who offered congratulations were none other than Charlton himself. In an interview with the BBC, Charlton stated “On behalf of myself and everyone at Manchester United I would like to say ‘Congratulations Wayne, this is a very proud moment for you and your family’,” further adding “It is a record that I am sure you will hold for a long time. And it is clear to see that you will go on scoring for your club and country for a long time to come.”
Of that last sentence, there was another familiar face from the annals of English soccer history that feels very much the same way. That would be none other than David Beckham, one of the most popular soccer players in English soccer history as well as throughout the world. Having scored 17 goals for The Three Lions and 97 goals in his 20-year career, Beckham certainly qualifies as an expert on the subject of accomplishment and longevity.
While Rooney (2004-present) and Beckham (1992-2003) missed the opportunity to play together with Manchester United by one year, they played for six years (2003-2009) as part of the same national team. Having played alongside the man during so many international matches, Beckham has seen first-hand exactly how much talent Rooney brings to the field every time he plays.
In that regard, Beckham had this to say. “He [Rooney] can continue for another five years.” Later in the interview with ITV Sport, he added “I really hope he does because he’s such a talent. Everyone knows how much England means to him, so I believe he can play for another five years.”
At the age of 29, it is clear Rooney has plenty of gas left in the tank. His great tenacity and enthusiasm for the game never seem to waiver. When combined with his undeniable love for country and team, five more years seems like a reasonable prognostication. For England’s millions of soccer fans, the thought of only five more years seems far to short.
For now, English soccer fans and national team officials would seem to have very little to be concerned about. In recent weeks, Rooney himself has alluded to the idea he expects to be with The Three Lions for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Furthermore, he tossed out the notion he would like to keep playing with the national team for as long as his body is ready to answer the bell.
Next up on Rooney’s hit list is another amazing record held by Charlton. During Charlton’s 18 years as a Manchester United Red Devil, he amassed 249 goals throughout all competitions. Currently, Rooney sits in third place with a total of 233 goals. Barring injury, it would be reasonable to expect that record to fall sometime within the next couple of years.
It is worth noting that Rooney would give up every single record and accolade to be part of a winning World Cup team. The man is about winning and records aside, there is nothing that would mean more to him than to bring a World Cup back to the English soccer fans who have embraced him and made him the player he has become.