Belfast Telegraph

Time to arise Sir Wayne Rooney and King Kyle Lafferty

By Billy Weir

It has been a week of milestones and a time to celebrate the reign of a much-loved, if somewhat over-hyped, leader of a nation who gets paid an inordinate amount of money for doing very little and who we are expected to bow and curtsey to as a matter of course.

Nevertheless, it's hats, or crowns, off to Wayne Rooney for breaking Sir Bobby Charlton's England goalscoring record on Tuesday night, as the Three Lions went on the rampage against mighty Switzerland thanks to Harry Kane's goal and Raheem Sterling tripping over a carelessly discarded Toblerone in the Swiss box to give Roo his penalty.

It was duly despatched with consummate ease, ITV's expert analyst Glenn Hoddle commenting that the poor Swiss goalie "didn't get anywhere near it" apart from the gloved hand that pushed the ball into the top of the net for Roo's 50th strike.

Let's not quibble, this was a night for hyperbole, not accuracy, and paying homage to someone who, as leader of their country, is one of the most recognised faces on the planet. Nice of David Beckham to turn up.

Becks really is destined to reign over us all for decades. No matter what the occasion, he always makes time to ensure that he pops up to steal the limelight in the nick of time, thus turning up at Wembley with his wee lad, just as he had done when Steven Gerrard made his debut for the LA Galaxy. A mere coincidence, I would suggest.

"Fifty goals doesn't make him better than Sir Bobby Charlton, Gary Lineker or Jimmy Greaves or any of the other famous footballers who have worn the white shirt but he has now scored more international goals than any of them," said commentator Clive Tyldesley.

I've checked, the three men named above didn't have the arduous task of facing the might of San Marino, Andorra, Kazakhstan or Liechtenstein in their careers, although Lineker did score four against Malaysia in a friendly and Greaves scored 10 of his total against Northern Ireland.

Wayne Rooney's five best England goals

It didn't stop Clive, though.

"Rooney's goals have not come in an era of heroes but in a time when every goal, every miss, every gesture in the world is analysed," he said. Indeed, what an inspiration Roo is to kids across the land.

"He's not perfect, but he's ours, he's English, he's our top man and our top scorer," he added. I know UTV is being flogged off but I didn't realise it made us all English. This putting the boot into Northern Ireland is usually the preserve of Greaves.

Meanwhile, Clive was still wittering on.

"The Wembley statue may not be commissioned just yet but he'll never be forgotten. Certainly not now, you will remember the name," he added, somehow managing to pay homage to himself by wedging in his commentary from Rooney's first Everton goal. Beckham would be proud of you.

And as one crown was handed over in London, back in Belfast, King David II looked on as nervously as the rest of us as the new pretender to his throne moved a step closer to his record and footballing immortality.

David Healy, who apparently scored a goal against Wayne Rooney's England a while back to cancel out all those Greaves goals, was in the crowd at Windsor Park on Monday night in the buttock-clenching roller-coaster ride that was Northern Ireland's 1-1 draw with Hungary.

Thankfully we don't have someone like Beckham to come along and try to steal anyone's thunder, so it was nice that Gerry Arconada-Armstrong was first on screen as Sky took to the air.

He has never knowingly mentioned anything about his goalscoring exploits and indeed will steadfastly refuse to talk about it, even if you ask him nicely. What's that? Valencia 1982? Sit yourself down…

In the studio another goalscoring colossus, Iain Dowie, has swapped terrorising defenders and small children for attacking the English language, but you can rely on him for words of wisdom when asked by Graham Little to pick out a 'calm head' Northern Ireland could rely upon.

His reply of 'Chris Baird' looked about as safe as Michael McGovern's ill-advised decision to wear Teflon gloves as the French fantasy threatened to turn into a Gallic gunk as the boys in green went a goal and then a man down.

Chris Baird's dismissal against Hungary was right call rules chief

But cometh the hour cometh the big man, Kyle Lafferty, Earl of the Erne, popping up to grab a late equaliser and send the house of Windsor into the sort of raptures normally reserved for a monarch being on the throne for 63 years.

So, move over Sir Bobby, King David (both of them) and Queen Elizabeth, make way for Sir Roo and King Kyle.

However, nudging Gerry out of the way might be a wee bit harder.

Belfast Telegraph


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