Monday, June 21, 2004

Rooney and Paul Gascoigne

Like all England supporters, I'm really enjoying watching Wayne Rooney play at the moment, especially when - after an off-colour season - he's really playing the way we all hoped he would when he first broke through. But there's something I like about him even more - that boyish bashfulness. When he scores (plenty of recent occasions in which to observe this) his goal celebrations are wonderfully self-conscious - like Shearer in the way he just puts his head down, raises one arm and charges towards the corner flag (I'll exempt that worrying cart-wheel after his first goal against Switzerland - best leave that to slighter players), but he looks almost embarrassed when he does so, as though he can see the photographers looming. His face reddens, he breaks into a grin which seems to say 'I know - I can't quite believe this either'. It's funny to see this stocky, barrel chested man expose his youthfulness so candidly. I'm reminded of the teenage boy who suddenly becomes startlingly handsome (not something Rooney has had to deal with yet) and exhibits this knowledge with every fibre of his astonished being. Remember Prince William a year or three ago, all bashful grins, that trick of his mother's, looking up through his eyelashes. Now he looks like a horse so I guess he won't have to worry anymore.

Elsewhere, more tales of barrel-chested genius (gone astray).

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