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Documentary

How should Rooney (2022) be remembered?

There are several things to like about the Wayne Rooney documentary. First of all, it’s only 1 hour and 43 minutes. While that’s 13 minutes longer than it should have been, it’s better than having to watch Wayne, Coleen and the kids play bored games in a long drawn-out series that searches for instagram moments.

Secondly, credit Director Matt Smith and producers Lorton Entertainment for presenting more than a highlight reel of Rooney’s glorious moments. They give you the inglorious headlines as well (minus the recent Wagatha Christie lawsuit — still unresolved as of this writing). Rooney’s life makes a writer’s job easy, because he regularly creates his own drama. There are so many incidents to regret and which, he insists, do not really represent who he is. Ahem.

Lastly, because Rooney truly was a great footballer, his soccer highlights are impressive and fun to watch. It’s not like watching the docuseries on Neymar and Pogba, where I was left to wonder: so what did those guys accomplish?

The film makes it pretty clear that one of its purposes is to influence how Rooney will be remembered. Cue the family footage, how the couple met in their early teens, wedding videos, Coleen Rooney designing her mansion. She talks openly about Wayne’s indiscretions. It’s the drink, you know. Coleen seems nice, but you feel like she has such a controlling influence over the film, that it is difficult to believe the constant bliss and forgiveness that is portrayed. (Twer it me, I would have burned all his cleats!)

The Soccer

The football footage and the talking heads well explain what made Rooney so great: relentless, all in, the Big Man. A pro at Everton at 16, he becomes the then youngest goal scorer in the Premier League. Being so young, he is inarticulate in front of the press and labeled as thick.

He’s also nicknamed the White Pelé, and is seen as the hope of England’s golden generation. At 18 he becomes the then youngest goal scorer at the 2004 Euros, but his tournament is cut short by injury.

For WC 2006, he rushes back from a foot injury but then tears his quad. Nonetheless, he plays, but being a fighter and drinker since his early teens, the streetfighter emerges in the game against Portugal. Rooney is ejected for stomping on Carvalho and England bow out in the quarters. On the international stage, Rooney never performs well.

On the other hand, joining Manchester United at 18, Rooney goes on to excel under Alex Ferguson and has a long career at the club. Towards the end of his playing days, he joins DC United for 2 seasons in MLS, where he creates undoubtedly the league’s greatest assist of all time in 2018.

I have watched that clip dozens of times, and each time I just shake my head because it is simply unimaginable. I always feel sorry for Will Johnson on that play.

There is scant mention of Rooney’s time as Derby County Manager. Perhaps too much drama there.

There is much to appreciate in Wayne Rooney’s talent. I never followed his career and found this film to be a good summary of his ability, with lovely football footage. By comparison, Rooney is only 7-8 years older than Pogba and Neymar. He seems to have accomplished much more than them and over a much longer time period. With so much emphasis today on becoming a celebrity and having an instagrammable life, I wonder if long-term excellence on the pitch will become a thing of the past. So enjoy Rooney for its soccer content, as the man might be one of the last who is great on the field and not just great on social media.

Note that Lorton Entertainment also produced the documentaries Make Us Dream (Steven Gerrard) and Asif Kapida’s Maradona.

7 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 7

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