Manchester United used to have a Norwegian striker named Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Because of his youthful looks and propensity for scoring late, decisive goals (such as the last minute winner in the 1999 European Championship match), Solskjaer was known as the “baby-faced assassin.”
As Solskjaer’s career was winding down, young Wayne Rooney came to Man U from Everton. His overly aggressive, sometimes petulent play, coupled with his physical appearance, caused wags to dub him “the assassin-faced baby.”
Today, in a sign of how far he has come, Rooney captained the English national team in its match against Brazil. It took a series of injuries to key players for this to occur, but the fact remains that only two English players — Michael Owen and the legendary Bobby Moore — were ever younger captains for their country.
The contest itself didn’t go well for England or for Rooney. Brazil bossed the match and might easily have won by more than the 1-0 margin, against a side that was able to start only two of its regular players.
During much of the match, Rooney was forced to help out in midfield, and on the few occasions when he found himself with the ball at his feet in an advanced position, he was unable to capitalize. On the bright side, though, Rooney did not allow his frustration to boil over into bad fouls and overt petulence, as has often happened in the past.
At age 24, the one-time assassin-faced baby, who recently became a father for the first time, seems to have grown up.
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