Wayne Rooney holds the record for scoring the most goals for both England and Manchester United, surpassing any other player.
In his early years, Rooney exhibited immense potential and was often compared to football legends Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. During the Euro 2004 tournament, he showcased his abilities and ignited hopes of a prosperous era for the English national team, marked by significant victories. However, even then, a shadow of anger loomed over him, a constant presence throughout his career.
As the most gifted English player since Paul Gascoigne, Rooney rarely discussed the anger that fueled him, manifesting in his celebrations after scoring goals and his reactions to defeats and disappointments. Yet, in recent years, he has displayed a calmer and more composed demeanor.
Previously, his rage guided his actions both on and off the field, serving as a driving force behind his performances as a football superstar. However, today, Rooney has reached a level of maturity and inner peace that allows him to openly address this anger. The documentary film “Rooney,” which explores his life and career, begins with a scene reminiscent of Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull,” where he channels his emotions through intense boxing training.
Rooney’s anger is directed at a system that seemed determined to suppress him, despite his emergence from a challenging and humble background in Liverpool’s impoverished neighborhood. He endured mockery for trivial things like chewing gum on television, faced ridicule for his accent and appearance, and encountered overwhelming expectations.
Media scrutiny exacerbated the tension, leading him to seek solace in alcohol and isolate himself for days to drown his sorrows.
However, at present, the 36-year-old Rooney has entered a new phase of his life, earning admiration for his dedicated work as the manager of Derby County, a struggling club. His upbringing compelled him to internalize his emotions, mask any vulnerabilities, and accumulate tension. But now, he finds relief in discussing his inner demons.
Rooney expresses no regret about the conclusion of his football career. Instead, he embraces his roles as a father, husband, and manager, which suit him better and contribute to the newfound serenity he has found.
During his childhood, Wayne spent significant time with his grandmother, who assisted his mother in raising him and his siblings. He recounts the profound impact of his grandmother’s passing just before his debut for Everton in 2002, underscoring the devastating loss for his family.
Rooney reflects on the challenges he faced growing up in an economically disadvantaged environment, constantly getting into fights and controversies. Transitioning from that environment to becoming a Premier League player at the age of 16 and representing the national team proved to be an unprepared journey, demanding a considerable amount of time to adapt.
In his youth, he made numerous mistakes, some publicly and others concealed from the press. Handling the press, his then-manager, and his family became incredibly arduous.
During his early years at Manchester United, Rooney isolated himself completely, avoiding social engagements. During breaks from football, he would seclude himself, using alcohol as a means to escape troubling thoughts.
Although people may know of his fondness for drinking and occasional nights out, it extended beyond that—it was intertwined with the turmoil within his mind. While learning to control his anger, he felt that he had lost a part of himself, as if being calm diminished his game, whereas not being in the right mental state added an element of unpredictability.
Rooney acknowledges his perpetual anger and aggression during his upbringing. He acknowledges having unresolved issues and acknowledges that they are now under control.
He clarifies that his actions, which deviated from his true character, were distinct incidents linked to his involvement in alcohol. They never occurred when he was sober.
Rooney confirms that he no longer struggles with alcohol-related problems. While he still drinks occasionally, it is significantly less frequent compared to his playing days. He emphasizes that he never reached a point where he considered himself an alcoholic, but rather, he would use his time off as an opportunity to try and forget his troubles. He denies ever attending training while under the influence.
Throughout the past 15 years, he estimates having been on around 10 nights out, with several resulting in sensationalized stories by the media.
Regarding therapy, Rooney admits to speaking with different individuals, although not for extended periods. He has learned to identify when anger starts to build up and seeks conversation as a means of managing it.
Rooney suppressed his emotions, allowing them to accumulate over time. While he denied their existence, Coleen, his wife, could always sense their impending eruption. Previously, he would reach a breaking point, go out, and make foolish mistakes. However, he now recognizes the importance of addressing those emotions before they escalate.
Triggers for these moments could arise from various sources, such as poor performance on the field or engaging in negative off-field behavior. The repercussions would extend to even simple outings to the local store, as he would prefer to hide from everyone due to feelings of shame.
Rooney describes how he would take a few days off, avoiding contact with others and indulging in alcohol. On the third day, he would return to training, compelled to pull himself together and soldier through the week. He found himself in a very dark place during the initial 3-4 years of his tenure at Manchester United. Paradoxically, this period coincided with some of his best performances, which exacerbated the issue since success on the field seemed to excuse his off-field struggles.
As his career progressed, his lifestyle began to affect his time at Manchester United, as an athlete cannot afford to live in such a manner.
Rooney recalls one incident that particularly angered him when television host Jonathan Ross made offensive remarks and mocked the appearance of Rooney’s parents after a family vacation photo from Cancun was published. He expresses a desire to confront Ross and understand why he behaved that way, emphasizing that it was unfair to target his parents.
Today, Rooney, a father of four sons, including Kai and Klay, who are already involved in Manchester United’s youth teams, refuses to let his children defeat him easily in competitions. He motivates them, telling them that if they cannot beat him, they need to work harder and strive for success, even if it frustrates them.
Despite his long-standing reluctance to be in the public eye, Rooney will attend the premiere of the documentary film about his life alongside Coleen. He feels content with the final outcome, aiming to present both his better and worse moments.
Rooney has always desired to be known as more than just a footballer, hoping that people will recognize him as a son, father, and husband. While he acknowledges his past mistakes, he believes that a deeper understanding of his character will reveal a different person.
Although he may consider himself somewhat introverted and unexciting, Rooney remains an enthralling figure for football enthusiasts. As the most talented English player of his generation, he is associated with countless memorable football moments.
Presently, Wayne Rooney has transformed, dedicating himself to his role as a coach while simultaneously discovering inner peace. It appears that his anger is now a distant memory.