England football legend, Wayne Rooney reveals all in warts-and-all documentary

Monday: Rooney (Channel 4, 10.15pm)
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After breaking on the scene as a 16-year-old boy wonder with THAT goal for Everton against Arsenal, Wayne Rooney went on to become one of the country’s greatest ever footballers.

However, his glory on the pitch – he was England’s leading goalscorer before recently being usurped by Harry Kane and remains Manchester United’s – his talent and achievements are often overlooked.

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That is perhaps down to a combination of sleazy incidents that ensured ‘Wazza’ became tabloid fodder and his often quiet demeanour – off the pitch at least.

Wayne RooneyWayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney

Originally shown on Prime Video in 2022, director Matt Smith’s feature-length documentary clearly aims to secure the Liverpudlian’s status as a footballing great (and family man), by providing access to his life and career.

It begins with Rooney in his role as player-manager at Derby County, and ends with his retirement from playing in January 2021.

Born and raised in the Liverpool suburb of Croxteth, Rooney was “brought up to fight”, though he admits to sometimes taking that “too literally”.

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Even as a prolific youth player, he was being touted as England’s great new hope, and by the time he was part of his country’s “golden generation”, at the European Championship in 2004, he was still only a teenager.

“I remember at the tournament, at 18, thinking to myself, ‘I’m the best player in the world, there’s no one better than me’”, he says.

“I felt like if we were gonna win the tournament, it’s because of me. If we don’t win it, it’s because of me.”

Rooney’s hulking man-like stature and skill on the pitch made it easy to forget how much of a child he still was when he broke on the scene, and we see him mumbling along at his first ever Everton press conference, aged just 17.

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This was around the same time he bought his first house with his childhood sweetheart and future wife, Coleen.

The film charts both the times when Rooney was able to perform to a world-class standard and those when the expectation on his young shoulders all got too much.

And then, there are the off-field controversies.

The film mentions Rooney’s visit to a ‘brothel’ in 2004, and his involvement with an escort.

These situations are remembered by Coleen at their £20m Cheshire home, who says she has forgiven her husband, but that his actions were “not acceptable”.

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There are also a few references to how Wayne’s relationship with alcohol played a part, and while some criticisms of his private life are justified, Rooney makes it clear others were based on misconceptions or misunderstandings.

Most interestingly of all, the documentary considers how different Rooney’s terrific but tumultuous career (and life) could have been had he not been hounded by the media, made those mistakes in his personal life, got injured at Euro 2004 Euros or kept secret an injury at the 2006 World Cup secret.

And would he have fared better under the guidance of current England manager Gareth Southgate?

Thierry Henry, David Beckham, Gary Neville, David Moyes and Sven-Göran Eriksson sings his praises, while Arsene Wenger, who was in the opposite dugout when Rooney scored that goal for Everton against Arsenal in 2002, says: “He’s the biggest English talent I’ve seen here, since I’ve been in England.”