When Does Argentina Play In The World Cup FIFA World Cup – Is Wayne Rooney the World’s Best Player?

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FIFA World Cup – Is Wayne Rooney the World’s Best Player?

Joining the Debate

Ahead of the FIFA World Cup, there is an ongoing debate about who is the greatest player in the world. Argentina’s Messi is among the most named. There are also those who support players like Portugal’s Christiano Ronaldo. Recently, Carlos Tevez, the Manchester City and Argentina striker, and Rooney’s former Man United team-mate, caused a stir when he said that Rooney is the best he has ever played against, or alongside. In fact, Tevez has categorically stated that Rooney is better than his Argentine teammate, Messi, as well as the Portuguese striker, Christiano Ronaldo.

The early bird

At the age of 25, Rooney has over one hundred Premier League appearances and over 50 England caps. When he turned out for Everton, against Arsenal, on his first Premier League appearance, Rooney set a record – since broken – as the youngest ever to play in the EPL. His goal in that match against defending champions Arsenal ended Arsenal’s 30-game unbeaten run. It also made Rooney the youngest player to score in the EPL (a record that has also since been achieved).

Rooney went on to become the youngest player to win an England cap – another record, erased – when he played in a friendly against Australia in 2003. He became the youngest England player to score an international goal, at the Euros 2004. Rooney announced his arrival in tournament action with a sensational display that ended tragically in the quarter-final against Portugal when he was injured and forced off the field.

Blazing a trail

Rooney has spent eight years in football and has eight trophies to highlight his presence in the football arena, including 3 Premier League titles, and one each in the UEFA Champions League, Community Shield and Champions Cup. The icing on the cake was the inauguration of the FIFA Club World Cup in 2008.

He has no shortage of accolades and has won countless individual awards, capped by the 2010 PFA Players’ Player of the Year award which was awarded to him in April 2010.

The ability to score a goal

Statistics do not often tell the whole truth, but they usually give broad indications of some existing trend. In Rooney’s case, the trend, if you can call it that, has been overwhelming. Over 145 goals, from around 360 appearances in club football, indicate a prolific scoring ability. Rooney’s strike rate has only improved in international matches, where his 55 England appearances (as at January 2010) have resulted in 25 goals.

Comparison with other star strikers

At the beginning of this article, I talked about Messi and Christiano Ronaldo as favorites over Rooney, by many, as the best player in the world. How does Rooney’s goal compare to these strikers? As of January 2010, Rooney had 25 goals from 55 internationals. Messi has 13 goals from 41 games; Christiano Ronaldo has 22 from 67. Going further, Brazil’s Kaka has 26 from 73, and Spain’s Xavi (Euro 2008 Player of the Tournament) has 8 from 82 appearances. Spaniard Fernando Torres, just a year older than Rooney and who, like the England striker, has represented his country since 2003, has 23 out of 71.

Threat of injury

Injury was Rooney’s bane in both the Euro 2004 and FIFA World Cup 2006 campaigns. Coincidentally, both campaigns ended at the quarter-final stage, and against the same team, Portugal, and on penalties. While Rooney suffered an injury during the quarter-finals of Euro 2004, at the 2006 FIFA World Cup he went into the tournament with an injury and England team officials erected a special oxygen tent to help Rooney recover in time for action. Earlier in March this year, Rooney sprained his ankle during the EPL. He returned to action a few weeks later in the Champions League, where the injury recurred. All England fans will be praying for Rooney’s fitness at this year’s FIFA World Cup.

Partnerships

A player, alone, cannot give victory. Where his rivals have scored against Rooney is the quality of support they have received from other players in their respective teams. For example, Xavi owed much of his success at Euro 2008 to the support he received from teammates Torres and Villa.

How effective Rooney will be at the 2010 FIFA World Cup will largely depend on how well he is supported on the pitch by Gerrard, Crouch and Defoe.

Great shape

Rooney has been in fantastic form throughout the current season. His 34 goals from 44 appearances for Man U tell their story. Gary Lineker, himself a former all-rounder for England, insists England cannot win without Rooney. Alan Shearer, another former England striker, recommends a 4-5-1 formation, with Rooney leading the attack, alone, a strategy Lineker also endorses.

For England to shine at this World Cup, they must treat Rooney like the jewel he is – with extreme care. For Rooney’s part, he needs to keep his head down and not fall prey to on-field provocations from rivals, as he infamously did in the 2006 World Cup quarter-final against Portugal.

Who is the best in the world?

Chelsea coach Ancellotti will have no argument. Rooney is the best, he says. This, coming from a man who has been at the helm of Rooney’s genius in the EPL, is a huge endorsement.

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