Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe has offered Wayne Rooney some advice on how he can extend his career at Manchester United.
A notable lack of potency under Jose Mourinho has led to Rooney’s omission from Man United’s starting XI in recent weeks, with many expressing doubts over the striker’s future for both club and country.
Rooney has played no fewer than 42 games a season since the age of 16, prompting various pundits and fans into labelling the 30-year-old as past his best.
However Defoe, who has managed to maintain an impressive goal-scoring record in spite of entering the latter stages of his career, believes Rooney can continue to play at the highest level if he takes care of himself appropriately.
“Is age an irrelevance? 100 per cent. Ryan Giggs [who made his last Manchester United appearance at age 40] showed that,” he said.
“It was well documented the things he was doing, like yoga and pilates. Teddy Sheringham played until he was 40. I think Les Ferdinand was 38.
“I just think, if you do it right, if you look after yourself like I always have then you shouldn’t have a problem.
“It’s unbelievable (the criticism of Rooney). People obviously forget what he’s done and how much football he’s played. Look at his record – the highest goalscorer – it’s a little bit harsh in my opinion.
“Obviously there comes a point in a player’s career where you can’t get to the same level that you’ve been at before – and you set such high standards it’s hard to be the same.
“But people can’t forget what he’s done and the amount of goals he’s scored, not only for England but for Man United as well.”
There are, of course, plenty of liberties that one can take when it comes to maintaining a good physical condition. Ryan Giggs, as Defoe points out, regularly took part in yoga and pilates sessions. Other measures taken by ageing athletes include things like meditation, aerobics, various breathing exercises, ice chambers, and so on.
With Rooney, however, it isn’t so simple. For one thing, the 30-year-old has played a far higher volume of games before the age of 20 than normal, meaning that his body is already suffering from the typical too-many-miles-on-the-clock syndrome.
And secondly, problems arise when you look at Rooney’s actual physical composition as a whole. His body – and I don’t mean this in a derogatory sense – is not really adjusted to constant seamless athletic movement – a far cry from Giggs, a gazelle-like, natural athlete. This was raised when he first leapt onto the international stage with Everton; he was, on many occasions, labelled as too ‘bulky’, and as he approaches the latter stages of his career, his physique – as it often does with anybody involved in sport (unless you’re Giggs, of course) – is beginning to weigh him down.