Wayne Rooney made his professional debut with Liverpool’s local club Everton at the tender age of 16, David Beckham hailed him as one of the greatest footballers of his generation, and he was the youngest goal scorer in his first season of the Premier League.

Although, his footballing crown has been tarnished with some grubby moments over the years; from prostitute-fuelled threesomes to an infamous sex scandal with a grandmother, Rooney is unforgettable, if not for his footballing genius, but his notorious antics that have made us squirm in the British tabloids.

‘Rooney’ is a tell-all documentary directed by Matt Smith, which premiered on Amazon Prime on February 11, that delves into Wayne’s childhood, his love of football and his marriage to his childhood love, Coleen.

It is poignant, honest and allows us to see the human side of a man who has grown up under the microscope.

Wayne has worn the title of England’s all-time leading goal scorer, who was said to be on an eye-watering £200,000 a week when he played for Manchester United in 2004 and is no stranger to the idea of being great. Evertonians once dubbed him as the ‘white Pele’ during his time at the club.

The film features a host of footballing names, including Gary Neville, Thierry Henry, David Moyes, Sven Goran Eriksson and Rio Ferdinand, who have nothing but praise for Wayne and his talent.

Whatever the mistakes Wayne has made, it’s clear he is held in high esteem despite some of the hairy moments throughout his career (including his tete-a-tete with Fergie during his time at Man United).

12 year-old Wayne Rooney
12 year-old Wayne Rooney with a cheeky smile, Photography by Philip Wilson

However, there’s almost an impish side to Wayne Rooney shown in the documentary, where he says he always ended up in a fight when he was a kid and felt enjoyment from the trouble he caused.

Gary Neville described Wayne as: “A dirty little b*****d who played like a street kid, defended for his life, and attacked for his life” – which aligned with his talent – is what made him so special.

Hailing from Croxteth, which Wayne described as a violent area of Liverpool, he says you are taught to fight to survive. Clearly, this is evident when you look back on his brute physicality on the pitch and his street football-style skills, which is what made him so impressive to his peers.

There is a cliched idea that a reputation takes a lifetime to build and seconds to destroy, which applies neatly to Rooney who dwells on his misdemeanours and comments that people still look at him in a different way.

He was once known as the guy who was going to change everything for England’s football, but at 17 he was like a rabbit caught in headlights and according to his agent, the abuse he suffered was out of control.

When Wayne scored his first goal in the premiere league, Arsene Wenger said: “…mentally I hope he can cope with what is happening to him.”

You can watch the Rooney documentary on Amazon Prime.

Peppered with footage from the couple’s wedding day in Portofino in 2008, there are candid shots of Wayne and Coleen dancing and tongue-in-cheek video footage of the priest asking Wayne to repeat “This is a sign of our faithful love”, when the audience knows he has been nothing but unfaithful.

However, watching the ‘Rooney’ documentary makes you consider the shades of grey that exists within life; nothing is ever as it seems. Here is a man who knew he was going to marry his wife at 12 years old but has been swept up in the reality of what it means to be a 16-year-old who grew up with talent, temper and a struggle with alcohol.

It’s clear to the viewer, Wayne Rooney is carrying a cross of shame.

At the start of the documentary, he says he wants to be remembered for being a good person, and not the things he has done.

Is the documentary a stunt to move public opinion away from the darker side of Wayne Rooney, who knows? Still, he’s a father and a husband who’s trying to find his place (who still prays to his Nan on his dark days) and has made many mistakes along the way.

He’s human, and we can forgive him for that.

Featured image by Amazon Prime, Creative commons licence

Photograph of 12 year-old Rooney by Philip Wilson, Flickr, Creative commons licence

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