Wayne Rooney’s playing career is barely cold in the ground and now we have this official-version documentary profile. It could all be a little premature, as Rooney-the-manager looks as if he will be just as interesting as Rooney-the-player, if not (yet) so stellar. But his current travails at Derby County are no doubt too recent, and certainly not triumphal enough, to make the grade in a film designed to reboot the collective memory banks and secure his status as a footballing great.
Despite his spectacular achievements – a boy wonder, leading goalscorer for both Manchester United and the England national team – Rooney was never exactly a glamorous figure, either on or off the pitch. This image was reinforced by a series of sleazy incidents that ensured he became grubby tabloid fodder. There is a strong element of reputational rehabilitation here, with lengthy sequences showing Rooney engaging in wholesome family activities, meekly accepting criticism from his wife Coleen, and interviews in which Rooney does his best to be frank. His natural defensiveness doesn’t help, though – along with his extensive deployment of the established footballers’ deflection technique of talking about themselves in the second and third person.
Still, Rooney isn’t shy of enlarging on his hardcase early teen years, and takes a public earbashing from Coleen over the tabloid escapades. (No mention of “Wagatha Christie”, though; no doubt that’s being saved for another documentary.) In fact, Rooney’s desire to bare his soul may yet get him into trouble, after he rather rashly admits to deliberately setting out to hurt an opponent in a key game against Chelsea – a remark in which the FA is taking an interest. The football, in truth, gets a little lost among all this: his international career was somewhat soured by the wider difficulties the England team experienced, and at club level, as he himself points out, his achievements at Manchester United were overshadowed by the treble-winners of 1999. Perhaps that will remain Rooney’s lot, even if it is clear his story is far from over.
Rooney is released on 11 February on Amazon Prime Video