Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo have accomplished much, both together and apart.
There’s something about reading their names together that still calls forth dominant memories of red blurs dancing across the pitch at Old Trafford.
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Ronaldo arrived at Manchester United in Summer 2004, and Rooney followed one year later. By the time they hit their prime, the Red Devils not only reclaimed the Premier League crown but won three-straight titles. There was a League Cup, a Club World Cup, and a Champions League title as well.
This is Ronaldo’s seventh year at Real Madrid, which seems almost forever ago, like we should be watching their video in black-and-white.
Rooney has further etched his name in United history, matching Bobby Charlton with his 249th goal for the club on Saturday.
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This on the same day Ronaldo scored in helping Real Madrid to a 39th-straight match without a loss, one shy of Barcelona. He’s played in 28 of those, and in an odd twist of fate, he’s unbeaten in 11 more with Portugal. He, too, is on 39.
Rooney. Ronaldo. Charlton. Barcelona. Manchester United. Real Madrid.
That’s quite a list.
Since parting, both players have done alright for themselves. Ronaldo has three of his four Ballons d’Or, a league title, two Champions League crowns, and this summer’s EURO win. Rooney’s accolades are as strong as one of the world’s greatest players of all-time, but still impressive: two PL wins, three England Player of the Year awards, and the most goals in England history.
At times, it begs the thought of what would’ve happened should they have stayed together? It’s impossible to replace Ronaldo, but who knows how many fewer miles would be on Rooney’s engine had he shared the burden with an Ronaldo or an adequate replacement.
United brought in Antonio Valencia, Michael Owen, Gabriel Obertan, and Mame Diouf that window. The next year, it was Bebe and Chicharito. In 2011-12, United added Ashley Young. United only added one more PL title, and managed a UCL final loss. What could’ve been.
Rooney’s going to pass Charlton soon. Real has a tough test from a wounded Sevilla in the second leg of their Copa del Rey matchup.
But it feels fitting to recall both Ronaldo and Rooney on a day where both continued their legacy-printing careers.