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EURO 2004 spotlight: How brilliant was England's Wayne Rooney?

An 18-year-old Wayne Rooney set UEFA EURO 2004 alight.

EURO 2004 highlights: Spotlight on Wayne Rooney
EURO 2004 highlights: Spotlight on Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney burst on to the international scene in scintillating fashion at UEFA EURO 2004 – he would go on to become England's all-time leading goalscorer.


EURO 2004

Watch Rooney double against Croatia in 2004
Watch Rooney double against Croatia in 2004
  • Went into the tournament as one of the most exciting young players on the planet having first made his mark for boyhood club Everton at the age of just 16.
  • Performed impressively in opening 2-1 defeat by France despite not getting on the scoresheet, running with the ball at every opportunity.
  • Became the youngest scorer in EURO history – a record taken by Johan Vonlanthen four days later – with two goals in England's second group game, a 3-0 defeat of Switzerland.
  • Rooney added another two to his tally in the 4-2 victory against Croatia.
  • Headed into the quarter-final against Portugal as England's talisman but lasted just 27 minutes before being forced off with what was later confirmed to be a broken bone in his foot. The Three Lions lost on penalties following a 2-2 draw after extra time.
  • Only Milan Baroš (5) scored more goals than Rooney, who was also named in the official UEFA EURO 2004 Team of the Tournament.

What you might not know

Watch great England EURO goals
Watch great England EURO goals
  • Rooney started a player-coach role at English second-tier side Derby County in early 2020; he is now playing in midfield.
  • He is the all-time leading goalscorer for both Manchester United (253) and England (53).
  • Rooney's first appearance in a UEFA tournament was the 2002 UEFA European Under-17 Championship; he scored five goals in Denmark including a hat-trick against Spain in a 4-1 third-placed play-off victory
  • He met his wife, Coleen, while they were at secondary school and the couple now have four sons; Kai Wayne, Klay Anthony, Kit Joseph and Cass Mac.
  • Rooney's favourite band are Welsh rock group the Stereophonics; he has a tattoo of the title of their third album 'Just Enough Education to Perform'.
  • Rooney is now a weekly columnist for broadsheet newspaper The Sunday Times.

What he said

“I can’t play forever so I need to think about my future after my playing days. I love the game, I want to stay in it. I think it’s a shame when you see players who have been great players walking away and not really having a go at managing or coaching."

The best goals of EURO 2004
The best goals of EURO 2004

"My debut at such a young age and then EURO 2004 was the standout tournament for me because I scored four goals."

"To be your country’s all-time leading goalscorer before the age of 30 is something I could never have dreamed of."

"I just hate losing."

What they said

"I don't remember anyone making such an impact on a tournament since Pelé at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden."
Sven-Göran Eriksson, England manager at UEFA EURO 2004

"Wayne's emerged as one of EURO 2004's best players. He's a very exciting talent who shows maturity and composure beyond his young years."
Pelé, three-time FIFA World Cup winner

Watch all 39 of Wayne Rooney’s European goals
Watch all 39 of Wayne Rooney’s European goals

“When Wayne came through he was at a level which is different to any of the players we’ve got at the moment."
Gareth Southgate, England manager

"I think we have got the best young player this country has seen in the past 30 years."
Sir Alex Ferguson, former Manchester United manager

Final tally

International: 120 appearances, 53 goals
UEFA club competition (including qualifying): 106 appearances, 40 goals
Domestic competition: 635 appearances, 267 goals