Look, Rooney is a fantastic footballer and a joy to watch. Case closed. And he’s marginally less stroppy than he once was – he’s stopped sneering, gobbing at people and throwing his towels and Lucozade around as much, I think we’ll agree.
But for ****’s sake, an “ambassadorial, media-trained icon of a man”? Did we miss a meeting? Has Mr Bamboozlewood lost his grip? Since when does putting a monkey in a suit constitute evolution?
It grinds me, it really does, that we see fit to applaud – even pay anything more than a cursory nod to – anything footballers do other than what they’re paid to. What they’re capable of as athletes is remarkable at times, and they are gifted, finely tuned sportsmen. They showcase supreme talent and great entertainment on a world stage.
They can make or break a club’s fortunes and its fans’ hearts. I get it, but please, please, let’s not dress them up as anything more than overpaid professionals plying a very specialist trade that requires very little by way of profound insight or careful thought. As adults, we can just about see this. But the kids who idolize them can’t. It screws with their ambition and ideas of the world.
They see the European footballing glitterati and think, ‘hang on, he’s not very bright. If they’re prepared to put that bozo on a pedestal and ask him for his thoughts on anything other than football, there’s hope for me yet.’ Whoops! Sorry kids. Or, ‘that subnormal spud-head has everything, even a vaguely attractive girlfriend with the brains of a goldfish, and he appears to have done bugger all to earn it except score goals. He’s got no idea about anything, but it’s okay!’ Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear.
Let’s put the media circus and the precarious big-business side of things to one side for a moment. If you had the opportunity, would you ask Craig Bellamy for advice on tact or diplomacy? Would you ask John Terry for relationship advice? Would you ask Rio Ferdinand for help with the crossword? Would you ask any high-profile footballer for guidance on cars, fashion, literature, plumbing, coastal walks, hand gliding? Anything other than football? Hopefully not. You’re going to look a right dick if you do, and possibly end up reading Rooney’s biography alone in your flooded flat after spells in prison and hospital.
Rooney is, I agree, an ambassador for football. Sadly, there’s little we can do about that. And as such, he has a responsibility for self-presentation and control under constant media surveillance. But does anyone really think he’s ‘evolved’ in any way, shape or form? If I did actually miss the metamorphosis, did he become this well-rounded, wholesome epitome of a sporting young man of his own doing? Come on…
‘Wayne, wear this suit. Don’t say f***, s*** or b*****d – they’re naughty words. Try not to repeat the same hackneyed phrase more than three times in your answers, even if you don’t understand the question. Try to give different answers to some questions, too, and don’t let the camera – that thing pointing at you – freak you out.’
‘Eh? Oh, okay.’
It’s a miracle! Look! He’s a beacon of wisdom, inspiration and hope! He’s wearing a tie! He’s the messiah!
The world is on its arse.
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