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Last Updated: Monday, 28 June, 2004, 16:38 GMT 17:38 UK
Is Rooney the new Beckham? Discuss...
By Ellis Cashmore
Professor of Culture, Media and Sport

Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring against Switzerland with David Beckham
Rooney celebrates scoring against Switzerland with Captain Beckham
With reports of Rooney shirt sales outstripping those of the England captain, is the teenager heir apparent to David "Golden One" Beckham? A leading football academic is unconvinced.

At 18, Rooney is starting young.

Beckham was 23 when he traipsed off the pitch towards a living hell from which he emerged with godlike powers.

I'm referring to the 1998 Red Card incident, of course. It was an event that signalled the start of a career of epic proportions.

In just three-and-a-bit Euro 2004 games, Rooney has sent the world of football spinning. The weekend tabloids are valuing him at over 50 million.

Real Story: A Wayne Rooney special
Monday, 28 June, 2004
19:30 BST on BBC One

Manchester United ended up receiving about 19m from Real Madrid for Beckham.

Still only 29, Beckham is in danger of being swept away to make room for the new kid. So, is Rooney poised to take over?

No. At least, not unless he dumps Colleen McLoughlin and marries a member of Atomic Kitten, allows himself to be sucked into the celebrity whirlpool and consents to a makeover by Jean-Paul Gaultier.

David and Victoria Beckham
Behind every man......Mr and Mrs Beckham share a love of fashion
Beckham arrived at precisely the right time, when our attentions were turning away from traditional leaders and towards celebrities - figures who would loom large in our papers, magazines and TV sets for about as long as it took for us to grow bored of our mobile ringtone.

An ingenious, artful, designing and clear-eyed wife fresh from the global A-list catapulted Beckham into the celebrity orbit and introduced him to her glitterati friends.

I don't see Colleen taking Wayne to Armani fashion launches, or Johnny Depp's birthday bash or whisking him backstage after a Lenny Kravitz concert.

Victoria did all these things and, in the process, helped position Beckham as the all-purpose celebrity.

Marital drama

Colleen may fancy she has a celeb career of her own, of course: last week's Mail on Sunday photospread of her in skimpy gear could be a foretaste.

Colleen McLoughin
Girlfriend Colleen watches Rooney in action against Croatia
The role reversal might fascinate us: instead of "world-famous-superstar-meets-promising-footballer" scenario we have "boy-wonder-presents-childhood-sweetheart-to-the-world."

Interesting, perhaps. Endlessly fascinating, no.

The Beckham drama has been exactly that: a grand unfolding drama with disgrace, infamy, redemption, heroism and, according to Easter reports, infidelity.

We - and I mean the world - have been captivated onlookers for six years and we're not finished yet.

Even in his darkest hour, Beckham still enchants us. Take a look at the weekend papers: rumours of his demise are premature.

Rooney will probably become a great footballing hero in the mould of Alan Shearer, or before him Bobby Moore.
Rooney has emerged as a prodigious talent and at only 18.

Think about it: Our great boxing hope, Audley Harrison is just about old enough to be his father!

Rooney will probably become a great footballing hero in the mould of Alan Shearer, or before him Bobby Moore.

Equally, he could even fall prey to the malevolent forces that lie waiting for virtuosos.

The tennis wunderkind Martina Hingis, who won Wimbledon at 16, retired at 23.

Wilfred Benitez won the first of three world boxing titles at 17, but was sliding at 23.

Today's headlines of "Wayne's world" could easily be replaced by "Wayne's Wane".

Ellis Cashmore is Professor of Culture, Media and Sport at Staffordshire University and author of a biography on David Beckham.

Real Story: A Wayne Rooney special was on BBC One on Monday 28 June 2004 at 1930 BST.

A diary of Wayne Rooney, aged 18
29 Jun 04  |  England
Misery in Rooney's pub
25 Jun 04  |  Real Story
Rooney faces two months out
26 Jun 04  |  Football
Real unhappy with Beckham
28 Jun 04  |  England
Cleanse it like Beckham
16 Jun 04  |  Business


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