England Footballers: Role Models or Grown Up Men?

TAGs: England, Wayne Rooney

After England Captain, Wayne Rooney is photographed apparently the worse for wear in the aftermath of England’s 3-0 victory over Scotland. Lee Davy looks at the argument’s for and against the consumption of alcohol in the higher echelons of sporting excellence.

I was 18, barely a man when selected as part of a project team that would have raised my profile within the company. I celebrated by getting rat-assed later that night. The following day, the project manager called me into his office and dropped me. There was no explanation other than I had proven to him that I wasn’t ready.

A few weeks later, I asked him a second time for an explanation. He told me that I had been seen, getting drunk, wearing the company uniform. He said I needed to learn about respect and priorities – I needed to grow up.

England Footballers: Role Models or Grown Up Men?I was angry.

I considered contacting human resources.

How could I be penalised for something that happened in my personal time?

And I thought about this minor transgression when reading about the behaviour of the England national football team who decided to hit the town after their 3-0 victory over Scotland at Wembley. The press rolled out a tombstone in the shape of a photograph of the England captain, Wayne Rooney, looking like a truckload of Bacardi had hit him in the face.

Interim-England manager, Gareth Southgate is being interviewed for the job this morning. I bet the England manager-elect is well pleased with the decision his group of professionals made that evening. The selection panel won’t judge Southgate on his two wins and two draws. The Spain game aside, an elephant could have managed England, and still ended up with the same amount of points. But they will judge him on his ability to control the superstars sent to him on a periodic basis.

In short, his side let him down.

But did they let the nation down?

The Argument ‘For.’

Wayne Rooney is 31-years old, married and has three children. If he wants to go out and drink alcohol until 5 am what’s the problem? He was injured and wasn’t due to play against Spain on the following Tuesday night. And even if he was playing, he had over 60-hours recovery time.

At least Rooney stayed in the hotel. Sure, it was a lapse of judgment to forget to take his England kit off, but you know how it is. One drink leads to 10-drinks and before you know it you have lost your mind and people are pushing cameras in front of your face minutes before sending them to The Sun newspaper.

But some 10-lads decided to go into London to party. Now they would have been noticed. Is that a problem? Well, according to 80% of those polled by The Telegraph Online they should be allowed to do what the hell they want as long as that behaviour doesn’t fall outside of the rules. And it appears nobody has broken any rules. Gareth Southgate hasn’t been in charge long enough to slap any onto the front of the team fridge.

Professional footballers work hard. They lead a Truman Show type of life. They deserve a night out. These are grown men, and we should allow them to do what grown men do – that’s certainly the feedback from the nation.

The Argument ‘Against.’

Where was the respect?

Didn’t any of them consider that Gareth Southgate was having the most important interview of his life on Monday morning?

There are 6.8 billion cell phone subscriptions in the world. Aren’t they aware that if they hit the town, or get hammered at a wedding reception, that they are likely to be photographed and circulated around the world via social media?

Aren’t they aware that the press hover over them like vultures circle death?

Isn’t Wayne Rooney, as captain of the England national side, and the most experienced player in the squad, responsible for ensuring what happened – didn’t happen, especially with Southgate’s parking space still bears the words ‘Big Sam?’

If Wayne Rooney had been photographed snorting cocaine, he would have been ostracised by both England and Man Utd and pilloried as a drug addict who is setting the wrong example to millions of young football fans.

In an article that appeared in The Independent earlier this year, a panel of addiction experts ranked the top five most addictive drugs.

1. Heroin

2. Cocaine

3. Nicotine

4. Barbiturates

5. Alcohol

In 2014, the Office for National Statistics showed that 247 people had died due to cocaine-related deaths, 952 died due to heroin and/or morphine overdose, and 8,697 people suffered an alcohol-related death.

I would much rather see Wayne Rooney snorting cocaine than drinking alcohol.

That might shock you, and I expect it to. We have been conditioned from birth to look at 8,697 alcohol-related deaths printed on a computer screen and see nothing but white space. It’s a number that doesn’t compute. It’s as normalised in our society as casualties of war.

As a parent, it is easier for me to guide my children away from recreational drug use than it is to guide them away from alcohol and people like Wayne Rooney are implicit in this reasoning.

As an icon of world sport, he and his teammates have a responsibility to behave as a role model, and I don’t think drinking until 5 am in the morning falls into that category. And they know this, otherwise why are they apologising for their behaviour?

Our children are more likely to follow the trends that the celebrities set than any form of parental conditioning. Yes, they are adults. Yes, they have a life. Yes, they should be able to choose to drink or take drugs, but I believe that they have a responsibility as a role model for our children, and if they don’t take it seriously, that figure of 8,697 deaths will just keep getting higher.

Now it’s your turn.

Where do you stand on this issue?

Should they be allowed to act like grown men as long as those actions fall within the rules set by the FA?


Should they set an example for our children and do everything they can to disassociate drug use from sporting excellence?


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