By Harry Dunning
“What a way to do it…”
Those were the words Sir Bobby Charlton said to his wife Norma as Wayne Rooney smashed in the free kick that saw him pass the Manchester United icon as his club’s record goalscorer.
Rooney’s total now stands at 250.
But he’d probably say modestly that rescuing a point for United at Stoke was more important than his latest personal achievement.
His milestone strike had been a long time coming, but it was well worth the wait.
Trailing by a goal going into the final minutes, United were awarded a free kick near the left-hand touchline around 25 yards from the goal.
Rooney stepped up to lash the ball into the top corner and etch his name into Old Trafford history.
Rooney v Charlton
For weeks now, a frustrated Rooney, 31, has played bit-part roles and been limited to just a few starts by manager Jose Mourinho.
But, as his goal against Stoke demonstrated, he surely has plenty left to offer the club he joined at the age of 18 in 2004.
Comparisons between him and Sir Bobby are hard to make – different eras, different positions, different qualities as players.
What is for sure, however, is that over the years, Rooney has produced some of the most spectacular goals of the Premier League era.
I was in the stands at Old Trafford for two of them…
Two great Rooney goals
The first was a thunderous half-volley past a flailing Newcastle keeper Shay Given at Old Trafford on April 24th, 2005.
With United 1-0 down to a Darren Ambrose goal, Rooney hit what looked like, from my view in the Stretford End, a heat-seeking missile.
As a nine-year-old, that strike was an amazing sight – I’d never seen a ball fly like that before.
The second is THAT overhead kick against Manchester City and a stationary Joe Hart on February 12th, 2011.
I’d managed to somehow swing a ticket for a tenner and a free lift, so to see that goal and the victory that followed was the closest to a perfect day you can get as a 17 year old.
The ground fell silent moments before Rooney connected with the ball. A split second later, most of the 77,000-plus people at the Theatre of Dreams erupted as it flew past Hart.
But Rooney’s not a player to dwell on past achievements. He also passed Sir Bobby as England’s leading scorer in 2015, but he’ll only be looking ahead to his next game – and goal.
As Sir Bobby himself said, he’s “a true great for club and country”.
Photo credit @BringUmbrella