If Wayne Rooney
really wants to stay out of the limelight as the people who make his football boots would say: Just do it. Nike's famous 1990s slogan should become the Manchester United striker's new mantra. If, as Sir Alex Ferguson says, media intrusion is beginning to get to Rooney there is another way. Easier said than done, you say? Hokum. Just ask Paul Scholes. One of the greatest footballers of his generation you'd struggle to find the Ginger Magician in an official matchday programme at Old Trafford, let alone a glossy magazine. Scholes has somehow managed to make ends meet on the fabulous riches lavished upon him as a professional footballer managed to fashion an incredible career, where the closest he comes to scandal is when he commits one of his infamously mistimed tackles. Scholes' reputation and legacy in the game will be based entirely on what he did on the pitch. Why? Because no-one's got a clue what he does off it and that's exactly how he likes to keep it. And it's not like he's the only role model Rooney could look to for advice. How about Ryan Giggs? Lifestyle Blessed with pin-up good looks and branded the new George Best when he burst on the scene as a 17-year-old, he's gone on to become English football's most decorated player after shunning the celebrity lifestyle, save for a few dalliances as a young man. Rooney has never been the type to make excuses. He didn't ask for special treatment from Sol Campbell when scoring his first Premier League goal just five days before his 17th birthday against then champions, Arsenal. He didn't use age as an excuse when taking Euro 2004 by storm with four goals in three games before limping out at the quarter final stage, taking England's hopes of success with him as he did. And he didn't bleat about a £20m price tag when scoring a sensational hat-trick on his United debut in his first appearance in the Champions League, no less. Which is why Ferguson's claims that media pressure is beginning take its toll on the 24-year-old ring a little hollow. There is no doubt that Rooney has garnered unwelcome publicity over allegations of sex with a prostitute and not for the first time. And with a wife and a baby son, he wouldn't be human if he wasn't affected in some way by the scandal that has shadowed his every move in recent weeks. But it would be disingenuous for anyone to suggest that the attention surrounding a man who has become the darling of the glossy magazines and described as anything from the saviour of English football to the white Pele, is anything other than expected. Like it or not, that is the rub of the green. Play for one of the most celebrated football clubs in the world in the most watched league on the planet and you're going to get noticed. Rooney has enjoyed the fabulous rewards that come with celebrity endorsements and magazine deals not least, a fairytale wedding in Italy.
Family On the strength of their relationship, his wife, Coleen, has become independently wealthy as they sell the picture of the perfect family but as anyone who has played the fame game can tell you, there's no such thing as a free lunch. And as Kevin Keegan who was no stranger to celebrity himself so succinctly put it: You can't have all the contracts, sell your wedding to magazines and things like this, and suddenly say, 'That's the tap I want to turn on, but we want to turn the other one off.' It is hard for the average football fan to feel too much sympathy for Rooney when you can turn on any television set and see his face advertising the latest computer game or football boots. On around a basic of £120,000 a week at United, it's not as if he needs the extra cash. His fees from EA Sports or Nike would probably be tantamount to the change he keeps in the ashtray of his Bentley. In Rooney's defence, he is not the one making excuses. He's still putting himself in the firing line even if he has only scored once in his last 10 games that coming from the penalty spot. His career thus far has been all about an incredible ability to shut out any external pressure and produce on the pitch. If his manager is right and publicity away from the pitch is finally beginning to hit home, then Rooney must stop giving the media reason tofollow his every move. He's out injured in Valencia tomorrow but on Saturday against Sunderland - just do it. What do you think? Have your say.