Belfast Telegraph

Rooney returns to the headlines after drink driving charge

Wayne Rooney is no stranger to being in the public eye on the day of an England match.

He must have expected this to be an exception, though, after retiring from international football last month.

While his former England team-mates prepared to play Malta, Cheshire Police said England's record goalscorer and former captain had been stopped in the early hours of Friday morning following an evening out and later charged him with drink driving.

The incident comes at a time when the 31-year-old appears to be enjoying a new lease of life in his footballing career having rejoined boyhood club Everton from Manchester United over the summer.

It is only a matter of days since Rooney also announced he was retiring from England duty in the hope of prolonging his playing days at club level.

Rooney's career has already been an outstanding one. As well as holding the national team's goalscoring record with 53 from 119 appearances, he also netted a club record 253 strikes during his 13 years at Old Trafford.

The Croxteth-born forward burst onto the scene as a precocious teenager with Everton, announcing himself to the world with a stunning winner against Arsenal in October 2002, and has been creating headlines since.

His early exploits for Everton quickly saw him elevated to the England side. He excelled at Euro 2004 and moved to United soon after, memorably scoring a debut hat-trick against Fenerbahce.

Rooney's honours with United were impressive and included five Premier League titles, one FA Cup, three League Cups, the Europa League and the 2008 Champions League.

There were no trophies to show for his England career, but his statistics should certainly stand the test of time .

Critics argue that, aside from that first one in 2004, he never really delivered when it mattered in major tournaments.

It also seemed the end might be coming when England boss Gareth Southgate decided against selecting him for a World Cup qualifier against Scotland and a friendly in France last summer.

When he took over just months earlier, Southgate had suggested Rooney remained an important part of his plans.

Southgate's decision to leave Rooney out aligned him with United boss Jose Mourinho, who made the striker an increasingly peripheral figure at Old Trafford last term.

After being one of the mainstays of United's most recent success, it appeared his career was winding down and there were suggestions he could move to China or the United States.

Yet the door seemed to open again following the initial success of Rooney's move back to Everton, with goals in his first two Premier League appearances back in Toffees colours.

Southgate himself said he wanted to recall Rooney but the player took the decision out of his hands last week.

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