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Is Wayne Rooney a great?

By Anthony Kendrick - Follow him on Twitter @Antonthology

Wayne Rooney. A polarizing figure. Other fans will point to some of his off-field exploits, while some Manchester United fans have not forgiven him for handing in a transfer request in 2010 and for some, he has been past his best for a while and should not be in the United side. Contrastingly, it is clear to see that he plays with his heart on his sleeve, putting the team first. When he scored the equaliser against Stoke, his interest was not in a big celebration. It was getting another goal and trying to win the game, typical of his career. When a number of players have missed games through small injuries or retired at a young age from England duty, Wayne Rooney has always been there.

The big question is whether he will be considered a great. It seems an easy question to answer - as England and Manchester United's highest ever goalscorer - surely he must. There are a number of factors which make up greatness. Is it longevity, their attitude outside of the sport, winning the most World Cups? It is a mixture of things. For sure, he has scored some memorable goals, his personal favourite against Newcastle, the overhead kick against Manchester City and the free kick against Stoke was sublime.

At Manchester United he has won the Premier League on five occasions as well as the Champions League. But there are only two seasons, the 2009-10 and 2011-12 where Wayne Rooney was the main man in the team who almost single-handedly dragged the team through games. He did not play a pivotal role in the Manchester United's Champions League campaign, or in any of their title victories. Cristiano Ronaldo and Robin van Persie saw to that.

As for England, he has scored 53 goals which when taken in isolation is an incredible goal return. But when you consider that this includes five against San Marino, three against Kazakhstan, two against Andorra. And while he has scored against France, Argentina and Brazil in friendlies, there are no big games against top level opposition that he has scored in.

But has he ever truly delivered in a big tournament, with just one World Cup goal? The answer is yes - once. In Euro 2004 he was named in the team of the tournament and was the second highest scorer with four goals. He announced himself on the world stage. But since then there has not been enough. The whole generation of England was a let-down after promising so much. But to blame this squarely on Wayne Rooney would be unfair.

For me, Wayne Rooney is a very good striker who has done his all for both England and Manchester United. He certainly should be very proud of his career. But, he is not quite at the level to be a great despite his impressive goal return. But in the same breath, this is a player which gives his all and deserves great credit and not the abuse thrown at him. There should be most respect for a player who has been a fantastic servant to both Manchester United and England.

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