Should Rooney seek his fortune abroad?

November 13, 2009

Manchester United fans will doubtless be pleased by Wayne Rooney’s latest comments pouring cold, or at least lukewarm water on the idea that he might move to Barcelona, or anywhere else for that matter.

Good news for United it may be, but I’m not so sure it’s in England’s interests for so few of the country’s leading players to try their luck abroad.

Whenever this subject comes up, I can’t help but look to the great strides made by Spain at international level, progress that must have been aided by the far more adventurous attitude taken by some of their players in recent times.

Spain used to have a similar reputation to England in this regard, with virtually everyone happy to stay at home and enjoy the riches available from clubs swimming in cash from huge TV rights deals. Heading into the 1998 World Cup, every member of the Spain squad played for a Spanish club, while four years later Gaizka Mendieta was the only export (and he was about to come home, after confirming a lot of prejudices in a nightmare season with Lazio).

Fast forward to Euro 2008, where a Spanish squad featuring Pepe Reina, Alvaro Arbeloa, Xabi Alonso, Fernando Torres (all Liverpool) and Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal) swept all before them.

Perhaps it’s a coincidence, but I suspect not. In the past, tensions always seemed to rise in the Spanish camp as long tournaments wore on (I covered them at Euro 2000, the 2002 World Cup and at Euro 2004) but last year there was a new confidence about them.

Wouldn’t it be beneficial for England if their better players spent some time abroad, learning new languages, experiencing different cultures and absorbing new ideas?

I’m not specifically talking about Rooney, who I’m sure will go on and achieve even more at United. But would it really be so bad if players like him followed the example of Steve McManaman and David Beckham and tried something different.

PHOTO: Steve McManaman lifts up the European Cup at Madrid’s landmark Cibeles fountain May 25. Real Madrid beat Valencia 3-0 in the Champions League final at the Stade de France in Paris May 24 to secure their eighth European title.


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We don’t particularly want Rooney, and certainly not for the 85 million euros england newspapers say. how much would manchester united pay for Pedro?

Posted by JJ Reyes | Report as abusive

i dont think that there is any doubt whatsoever that rooney will spend the rest of his english club career with manchester united, however, what will happen to him when sir alex finally hangs up his hairdryer? I personally think that whoever takes over from the man is going to have not a difficult, but an impossible task in trying to win over the united fans and players before him. So I believe that rooney will move abroad possibly the season after ferguson retires, perhaps when he is around 28? Arguably the age where many players reach there peak

Posted by maid | Report as abusive

that’s an interesting idea. a lot of players will stay at united because of personal loyalty to ferguson, i guess. after he goes, anything is possible.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

That’s if Ferguson ever leaves, of course!

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Agreeing with maid. There has to come a time when Fergie finally calls it a day. I have always advocate English footballers heading abroad, considering when people have always said that there are one too many foreigners in the Premier League.

But I think it’s not just an English thing. Following German football as well myself, there are times where a German footballer is linked with a move abroad (it always seemed to be Italy for some reason, or England) and it is often met with a ‘no thanks’. Hamburg’s Piotr Trochowski is one example. He had been linked with a move to Italy a few times. Mesut Oezil had been linked with a move to England a few times as well.

Posted by diana | Report as abusive

I think Germany would benefit as well. Klose would have been a good candidate to test himself and I think Torsten Frings might have taken up that offer to go to Juventus a couple of years ago. Hopefully the younger players (like Oezil, as you say) will be more adventurous.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

If I’m not wrong, Klose used to be linked with a move to England when the World Cup was in Germany itself. It never happened though. Then there is case of his usual strike partner in the German national team – Lukas Podolski.

Goodness how many clubs he had been linked before he went back to his ‘old love’ – Cologne. While it says a lot of how much Cologne means to him when he was still at Bayern Munich, looking at how Cologne is doing at the moment in the Bundesliga…it has not really paid off yet.

Kevin, you listed the Spanish players who played abroad and were part of the Euro 2008-winning side. I have always thought it’s interesting that an England-based player will be the one who scored the eventual winning goal against the Germans in the final – Torres. And Germany on that side in the final has a player who plays his football abroad – Michael Ballack. Unless one also include Jens Lehmann, though he is to eventually play his club football back in Germany again after the tournament.

Posted by diana | Report as abusive

I wrote about this subject a few months back if anyone is interested. I’m a Man Utd fan and would hate to see him leave but I think he’d benefit from going abroad – he’s only young now though…  /08/13/adding-the-final-string-to-the-e nglish-bow/

Posted by Steven Jones | Report as abusive

Much as I love Wayne “Once a blue, always a blue” Rooney, he is one player I cannot see doing well in Spain or Italy where the opposition, referees and fans would ensure he spent half the season suspended.
And wasn’t it just three years ago that everyone was saying that Italy won the World Cup because all their players players played in Serie A?

Posted by mitch | Report as abusive

Thanks for that, mitch. Let me say this: the comparison with Italy may be a bit of a red herring. Italy are successful and good luck to them. It may be because they all play in italy but a lot if factors are involved. England are unsuccessful, massive underachievers you might say, and one of reasons is that they give away possession far too much. Getting a few players schooled to keep the ball at, say, Barcelona is surely worth a try, just as spanish players learning a few things from premier league surely helped them.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Maybe it would do Rooney good to go and play abroad. He may become a more rounded player even grow up a little.

Posted by jonny on the ball | Report as abusive

Ireland have all their squad playing abroad but never seem to win anything, why is this?

Posted by Patrick | Report as abusive

because very few Irish players are playing at top clubs. By top, I mean the superclubs that are playing in the knockout rounds of the champions league every year.

I’m of the opinion that most players cannot be considered truly great until they go abroad and achieve things on foreign soil. Rooney is still learning his trade as he’s only 24 and has another year or two before he reaches his peak.

Posted by Marcus O’Mard | Report as abusive

I don’t believe Rooney would do well abroad. It’s something to write about, this idea of him leaving the comforts of home, but even if some day her leaves Man U I can’t see him ever leaving the British Isles. He is destined to be a Kevin Keegan/Alan Shearer type legend, soccer heroes who never felt the need to go “foreign” to leave a legacy.

Posted by Melanie | Report as abusive

There’s only one reason why England are massive under achievers, our technique is embarrasing compared to the likes of Spain, Brazil, Italy etc.

These tournament winning nations win tournaments for their technical ability, the ability to string 10-20 passes together in the opposition half. Their ball retention is phenomenal and our ball retention and technical ability is somewhat poor in comparison.

England won’t be helped much by a Rooney or a Lampard or a Gerrard moving abroad, the technical ability is drilled into youngsters abroad from the moment they can kick a ball. Investment in youth football in this country is the only way we will ever compete in major tournaments.

People say we have a chance of winning in South Africa? Any time we come up against a technically nation we struggle – France, Spain, Holland & Brazil to name a few.

I hope England win the World Cup, but realistically we are a quarter final team at best.

Posted by Dan United | Report as abusive

Probably to captain the national team would need one based in the country so Wayne should not try to click on that mistake.

Posted by Aogon Collins | Report as abusive

He will be a Manutd legend

Posted by Serhij | Report as abusive

“Ireland have all their squad playing abroad but never seem to win anything, why is this?”

First off, Irish players are not even considered foreigners in the Premier League.

“”A player is considered foreign if he is not eligible to play for the national teams of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland.””

Secondly, Ireland has a population of around 4.5 million and football competes with Gaelic sports. All in all they are quite successful with what they are working with.

Posted by TD | Report as abusive

Are you nuts? I believe that Rooney will forever be a Man united Man. Following the steps of Giggs, solskjaer, neville, and scholes. He is one of the vital cogs in Man United’s offense.

Posted by luis | Report as abusive

Maybe he wanted his name listed in the history of manchester united, who knows,,

Posted by SOCCERPROPICK.COM | Report as abusive