Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney has set a new goal scoring record for England’s national soccer team with a penalty in a European Championship qualifying match against Switzerland.
Tension mounted as Rooney stepped up to the spot to take the penalty late in the game, but he unerringly found the net to hit his 50th international goal.
The successful penalty let Rooney overhaul Manchester United legend Bobby Charlton’s previous record of 49 international goals.
TV pundit Gary Lineker sits in third place with 48 goals.
After the match, Rooney said: “This was a special night and one I can never forget. I was nervous about taking the spot kick and knew the consequences of scoring or missing.”
World class strikers
Rooney, 29, has 107 caps and made his debut in a match against Australia in 2003.
He still has some way to go as the leading international striker sill playing – that record is held by the Republic of Ireland’s Robbie Keane, who has hit the back of the net 67 times in 141 matches since 1998.
Both are still left with clear water between them and other leading strikers, such as Brazil’s Pele, who scored 77 goals in 92 matches and Hungary’s Ferenc Puskas, who bagged 84 goals in 85 matches.
The leading international goal scorer is Ali Daei of Iran, who scored 109 goals in 149 matches.
So how good is Rooney?
Is Rooney top class?
Many pundits congratulated Rooney for breaking the record, but dismiss him as one of the all-time greats of world or even English soccer.
Charlton, for instance, was a World Cup winner and critics suggest Rooney has neither the temperament nor skill to succeed by leading his team to victory at a major tournament.
While Lineker and Charlton both performed at the highest level – Linker scored 10 goals at two World Cups and won the Golden Boot as leading scorer at the 1986 tournament, Rooney has scored just once in a World Cup finals game.
He has also been involved in controversial incidents such as red cards and injuries at times when his team needed him most.
England manager Ray Hodgson pledged his support for Rooney and reckons he could score another 10 to 15 international goals in his career, setting the England scoring record at around 65 goals.