An unsettling moment in Wayne Rooney’s career

It’s a good thing Wayne Rooney has already extended his contract until the end of Hilary Clinton’s first term because his latest incident would have surely hurt his market value. He has now sustained three foot-related injuries in four years, and two of them have affected England’s chances in major tournaments:

2004 – His electrifying run in the Euro Cup ends when he breaks a bone in his right foot early in the quarterfinal match with Portugal. England loses to Portugal on penalties.
2006 – Rooney breaks his right fifth metatarsal in a match against rival Chelsea, less than two months before the World Cup. While he mounts an astonishing comeback, he is still well below his top form. He grows frustrated and is eventually ejected from the quarterfinal match against Portugal for nut-stomping. England loses to Portugal on penalties.
2007 – On the first weekend of the Premier League, Rooney suffers a hairline fracture in his left foot. Doctors project he’ll miss two months. Manchester United is spared from losing to Reading on penalties because it’s club season. Instead, the game is a scoreless draw.

The first thing I have to say about this is that the establishment had it coming. There is no offseason in football; when you aren’t playing for you’re club, you’re playing for your national team. The players can only take breaks when they get hurt, so it’s no surprise that so many of them do. It’s too much strain for a world-class athlete.

As for Rooney, the first thing he should do is change his shoes. Nike isn’t working for him. He’ll also need to improve his conditioning if it isn’t top-quality already. His tagline is changing from “football phenom Wayne Rooney” to “injury-prone phenom Wayne Rooney,” and that reputation could poison his career as it did Ronaldo’s, Carl Pavano’s, and Ken Griffey Jr’s. For these guys, it seems like impairment is a state of mind, and their bodies are simply more comfortable on stretchers than they are on the field.

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