Wayne Rooney's most impressive performance Friday was after the game

Wayne Rooney

It's been easy to knock Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, and to stereo-type him as the thick footballer who has more money than sense and doesn't know how well off he is.

But, to me, Rooney has come of age. And it's not just as a footballer at Manchester United that we are now seeing a more mature, thoughtful player - witness Rooney's magnanimous gesture to allow Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge to take that last minute penalty at Wembley Friday night - but off the field of play as well we have seen Rooney develop as a person.

When was the last Rooney off-field drama ? True, the alleged transfer request revealed at the end of last season by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson did him no favours, but this is something Rooney has always denied, and many fans have sympathy with Rooney over the way the whole thing was handled.

I admit that very few things float my boat about the English national team these days (or have done so, in fact, for over 20 years), but Rooney's display Friday - typified by the headband required because of that nasty training ground injury - was something to be admired; he was there chasing every ball, leading by example, and at the heart of everything that was good about the England performance.

Manchester United - Wayne Rooney posts 'horror' head injury pic

But it was after the game that I thought that Rooney was at his most impressive. During the post-match interview with ITV, Rooney was thoughtful, gracious and articulate.

'The manager gave us the freedom and the platform to go out and express ourselves', Rooney said.

On Andros Townsend's debut: 'It was some debut. In such a high-pressure game to perform like that was incredible'.

It was indeed an incredible performance by the Manchester United striker too - both on and off the pitch - and Rooney has restored the faith of many England fans who have become used to abject performances, frustrating displays and underwhelming results. In Rooney, we finally trust.

image: © nasmac

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