Record for Rooney

At last, the record that had been on the line for many a week has finally been broken. Sir Bobby Charlton's total of 249 goals was eventually broken by Wayne Rooney's superb injury time free-kick against Stoke on Saturday, rescuing a deserved point for the Red's against a spirited Stoke side. As the players lined up in Stoke's penalty area for the final act, there was little expectation at what Rooney would go on to attempt, given the position he found himself in. As the ball flew up and over the diving Lee Grant, nestling itself in the top corner of Stoke's goal, the happiness was there for all to see. Yet it was tempered by the setting; if only this had been the winning goal -- and at Old Trafford.

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The achievement cannot and should not be underestimated. 250 goals (with surely more to come) since joining the club in 2004 is astonishing. That is to average 20 goals per season whilst only recently reaching the wrong side of thirty years of age. Such a magnificent feat would be lauded to a much greater degree had it been achieved by a national "treasure" -- a David Beckham or Alan Shearer type figure.

Under-appreciated and unloved

Yet this record-breaking act has been reported with little fanfare or appreciation. There are no big headlines, there have been few fireworks, and there has been little or no coverage appreciating that an English player has accomplished something truly astounding on the biggest football club in the word. A record that is hard to see being challenged again in our lifetime, as the notion of loyalty to a club falls by the wayside.

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Perhaps it has not really existed for many a season already. As the one club stalwarts begin to leave the game, today, money truly does talk, and the likelihood of players remaining in one place to create more records seems highly improbable.

Why do we not feel able to celebrate his achievement? A player who filled a void in the national side, that excited the country in a way not seen since Gascoigne was at his peak. We cheered his abilities and goals at Euro 2004, hoping we had the superstar that would take us all the way, relying on a player so young, so raw, with abilities that seemed to astonish the world.

For the United faithful, he is a player that has won everything for them, yet his actions off the field continue to rankle with fans. For all the Championships and European trophies, his repeated attempts to leave the club hampered his acceptance as a hero, failing to usurp club stalwarts such as Scholes and Neville. It seems impossible to picture Rooney being hailed on his return to the club should he decide to move on -- in the way Beckham and Ronaldo continue to be.

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Legacy

It has been fashionable to ridicule the boy, laugh at the man, and dismiss the captain that he has been and continues to be. Yet such behavior is unbecoming of us individuals. As Matthew Syed fittingly states in The Times, "It is the malaise of sneering at working-class kids, not because they have failed to achieve great things, but because they are easy targets."

As a man, he is not perfect; so few of us are. Yet as a player his achievements have been outstanding, the pressures he has endured have often been unreasonable and his abilities unmatched in the generation that has followed. With his career now coming to a close, John Nicholson wonderfully writes at Football365 that "Its been a brief episode in our timeline of life, and, as nostalgia and history tends to do, we should embrace the best bits and forget the worst bits. And in doing so, we will make all our lives better in The Now."

He may not be your idea of a hero, but he is certainly no villain. In our utmost desire for constant success as fans, let's take a moment to appreciate milestones achieved through a career of aspiration, discipline and talent. It may be a while before we experience it again. #ManchesterUnited #WayneRooney #Soccer