Rio Ferdinand has voiced his admiration for Wayne Rooney after the Manchester United striker scored his 50th England goal in the 2-0 Euro 2016 qualification win over Switzerland on Tuesday to dethrone Bobby Charlton as his country’s all-time leading goalscorer.
The 29-year-old has received his fair share of criticism over the past few years, but Ferdinand feels his former team-mate deserves credit for his achievements and was quick to point out that his stats at international level are close to those of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
“Forget how many were penalties, forget who the opposition were, forget all the naysayers. A record that stood for 45 years… Respect the ratio of one goal in about every two games at international level,” Ferdinand wrote on his official Facebook page.
“Now, compare that last stat with the two greatest players of our generation. Messi – 49 goals in 104 games. Cristiano Ronaldo – 55 goals in 122 games. Rooney – 50 goals in 107 games. Credit where credit is due please!
“The fella has 300 career goals. This hasn’t come about by luck or because he was in a completely successful team and chances were there in large amounts. This has come about through sheer determination.
“Rooney has turned himself around from the street football player we all saw in his early years to someone who is seeking out record-breaking milestones.
“He wasn’t a natural goalscorer, but wanted to be involved in everything from playing 30-yard diagonal passes to the rough and tumble chasing a player 40 yards to win the ball back. Scoring was an afterthought. After years of playing like this I think he saw that these records were achievable if he focused on getting goals more than he had been on scoring goals.
“You would notice the difference in his finishing, taking bits from other strikers. Shooting practice became more and more a part of his daily routine. He would talk about goalscoring more and more and who was at the top of the charts, how they were scoring and where he saw his goals coming in the coming games.
“He would have been looking at the England fixtures over the last couple of years calculating where and when he will break this record, playing it through his mind. To say he became obsessed would be far-fetched, but his mindset had changed to that of a goalscorer.
“Goalscorers are selfish. Wayne was known as an unselfish team player for many years. But goalscorers have to be selfish to be successful and Wayne became more like that. That is why he has broken such a long standing record and is on the cusp of breaking another one at Manchester United that Sir Bobby Charlton holds.
“Will Sir Bobby be happy for Wayne? Yes, he will but I’m almost certain somewhere inside he will be hugely disappointed because that selfishness of great goalscorers never dies.