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31st January 2017

Wayne Rooney: record-breaker

Rooney is as good as Henry and Suárez in the Premier League era

History was made at the Bet365 Stadium on Saturday, as Wayne Rooney broke Sir Bobby Charlton’s goal scoring record for Manchester United, a record which stood for 44 years. As he has done so many times in the last decade or so, the England forward stepped up to the plate to deliver the all-important goal, which rescued a point for his team on a difficult afternoon in Stoke.

The goal also marked another landmark for Rooney, as he scored his 88th away goal in the Premier League, overtaking Alan Shearer, who had previously held the record. Just as he has scored the most goals for his club and country and the most for a single club in the Premier League era, it is yet another milestone held solely by the United and England captain.

It isn’t just in the goal scoring department where records are tumbling either, Rooney is the ultimate team player. The ex-Everton man has laid on 102 assists for his team-mates during his 14-year stint in English football. He has the second most assists in Premier League history, level with Frank Lampard. Rooney’s next assist will see him go outright second behind his former team-mate Ryan Giggs, who has the most Premier League assists with 162.

Over the past 10 years, Rooney has been and still is one of the biggest names in football, mainly because of what he does on the pitch. Off the pitch, he appears to be a calm man of few words, but he does most his talking on the pitch, and on Saturday he shown once again why he is one of the best players to ever grace the Premier League. He is a true figure of consistency.

Of course, it is fantastic when a player performs consistently for three seasons, as Rooney’s England team-mate Harry Kane has done for Spurs. But he has a long way to go if he wants to surpass what his England skipper has achieved in the game.

The same can be said for former-Liverpool star Luis Suárez, the Uruguayan striker dazzled for three and a half years in the red of Liverpool, scoring 69 goals in 110 Premier League appearances. In the same period Suárez was at Liverpool, Rooney netted 65 goals for United while providing 32 assists, nine more than Suárez managed.

Everyone knows that Suárez is one of the best strikers the Premier League has ever seen, and of his generation. Rooney, however, does not get the same amount credit amongst all football fans, despite more than matching Suárez’s goal involvement in the Premier League. Aside of this, Rooney won two Premier League titles between 2011 and 2014 as well as scoring in a UEFA Champions League final, something Suárez did not manage until he moved to FC Barcelona in the summer of 2014.

Since Suárez has moved to Catalonia, he has been sensational, but he has had to leave the Premier League to achieve the team medals Rooney has achieved, including a Champions League winners medal in 2015.

Another player who had to leave England to emerge victorious on the European stage was Arsenal legend Thierry Henry. Just as Suárez did, Henry moved from the Premier League to Barcelona to play with the likes of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi. The Frenchman won a domestic treble in just his second season in Spain, something Suárez managed in his first.

When Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen picked his all-time Premier League XI in 2014, just before he retired, he paired Henry and Suárez up front together. It was a selection not many might have argued with, but disregarding Rooney is something he may want to reconsider.

Henry was prolific in the Premier League in his eight years with Arsenal, scoring 174 goals in 254 appearances, while registering an impressive 75 assists. In comparison with Henry, Rooney has scored 195 goals in 451 appearances.

While he may not boast as good a goal ratio as Henry, it should be considered that the Frenchman played as an out-and-out striker during his time in North London. Rooney, on the other hand, has played in a variety of other positions as well, including as a number 10, winger, and even in a deep lying midfield role under Louis Van Gaal.

A further factor in Henry’s favour is the age. ‘Titi’ arrived in the Premier League when he was 22 and approaching the prime of his career, while Rooney started out as a 16-year-old. Consistently scoring goals from the age of 16 right through to 31 is something Henry may not have managed if his career followed a similar pattern to Rooney’s, in the world’s most physically demanding league.

Instead, just as Suárez did, Henry went to Spain to prolong and improve his career in a better team. The two Premier League icons also went on to be greats at Barcelona, and if Rooney took the same path as the duo, no doubt he would have been equally as successful in one of the greatest teams ever to have played the game.

It remains unclear, however, that Henry and Suárez would have thrived in the Premier League for 14 years and counting just as Rooney has done, winning honours year after year while breaking records for club and country.

Time and time again, Rooney has received unfair criticism where other players have had credit for achieving less than him. Henry and Suárez are two examples. Undoubtedly, both are wonderful strikers, but their achievements in English football don’t match up to Rooney’s.

Perhaps the Manchester United and England serial record-breaker does not get the credit that he deserves…

In other news, water is wet.

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