| 7.7°C Belfast

McBurney/Declan Bogue

Pictured Declan Bogue

Date: Thursday 12th April 2012

Location: BT Offices

Credit: Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX

Copyright: Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX

Liam McBurney - RAZORPIX


+44 7837 68 57 67

This crisis is bringing out the best in Wayne Rooney and in us

Declan Bogue



Straight talking: Wayne Rooney has hit the nail on the head

Straight talking: Wayne Rooney has hit the nail on the head

Getty Images

TJ Reid

TJ Reid

�INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Straight talking: Wayne Rooney has hit the nail on the head

These certainly are strange times when you find yourself - get this - reading a Wayne Rooney column and nodding along with everything he has to say.

Former England and Manchester United ace Rooney has opened his columnist account with a brace of net-busters in The Sunday Times.

In a time of coronavirus, naturally there are a million avenues to explore with one of the most celebrated soccer players of his generation, but credit must go to journalist Jonathan Northcroft for framing it as he does.

It turns out that Rooney has plenty to say and he's not one bit afraid to lower the blade. In hurling chat, it might be said that he has a bale of sticks on the sideline and he's not afraid to get through them.

Well for him too. Back in 2006, he received a £5m advance from HarperCollins for a five-volume autobiography, to be spaced out over a dozen years. One suspects that you could learn more about the man by keeping an eye on his column for the next while than in all those PR-neutered efforts.

Without games, there's no room to crowbar in the 'sick as a parrot' lines. Instead, all we are left with is ingenuity and the results of shoe-gazing.

They say before he slumped into his Elvis in Vegas period, Rooney would 'come alive' in the box.

Well, in the coronavirus-shaped box we reside in now, Rooney's come alive on the subject of the mental health of soccer players during the enforced stasis.

He wrote: "Within football, I do think some players will struggle. A big topic in this game now is mental health and players will be tested by the loss of routine. As will everyone in society.

"Everybody is worried about themselves and their families and often going into work is the thing that makes sure you're not overthinking. So it's important, whatever their job, that anyone who is feeling a bit down phones their family and friends and stays in communication, doesn't just lock themselves away."

And that's as perceptive as anything you are going to read about these days. I hadn't expected it, in truth. But the next few pars top it.

"And that's the main thing I want to say, really. We are all experiencing something new, something we've never dealt with. It is tough for everyone. It's going to get tougher. So try and take the messages that are being put out there and apply them to your everyday life.

"Try and enjoy your family time. If you're feeling upset, whoever it is you speak to - speak to them. And if you've no one to speak to, there will be helplines out there. Communication is such a big thing. Don't go into a shell."

I know what you're thinking. Spare me. Who has the time or inclination to work up some sympathy for multi-millionaires who have to go without the misplaced adulation of stunted adults for a few months while they continue to draw down huge salaries?

And it's true, some do themselves no favours. In-house Twitter clips of the likes of Sergio Ramos on a treadmill, being called a 'hero' by his own club are nauseating. Likewise any footage of footballers working out in their luxury homes. Bonus buckets of vomit for those that do so with their wives or partners. It's all sorts of wrong.

Same for the sheer narcissism of David Luiz and the broody, glistening post-workout glory that was an accompanying image for the Rooney column.

That's the gaudy me, me, me side of all of this. But we can take Rooney's thoughts and apply them in the way that we expect he intended. For example, it's easy to be cynical about the clips of players juggling a toilet roll - but there's also a message we can take from that too. If our children are indoors trying to copy their heroes, then it must be taken in good faith.

There's a fair bit objectionable about how players in Gaelic games can act too, though it has to be borne in mind that a reticence to talk, and an insistence of some to blatantly lie when they do, is a result of a new development of 'media training' pushed by the Gaelic Players' Association that they neither need, nor suits them.

Without tight controls from managers, we have a host of players being hugely honest lately and, even though we live in stressful times, almost unburdened by the weight of something like Gaelic games which feels incredibly important, but really is nothing.

In the new normal, we see people adapting. TJ Reid is probably the most rounded hurler of his generation, but he has had to abandon his gym and is doing twice-daily online workouts to replace it.


TJ Reid

TJ Reid

�INPHO/Ryan Byrne

TJ Reid


We see skills challenges going up on social media all day long. In the first few days of the crisis, former Tyrone player Joe McMahon put up a video of him washing his hands with his children to instruct others.

The crisis is bringing the best out of us, and each other. We hold onto our hope because it's all we have.

Belfast Telegraph