Wayne Rooney becomes England's youngest ever goalscorer | September 7, 2003
BOY OH BOY: Rooney makes England history
WAYNE ROONEY, at 17 years and 317 days, became the youngest player to score a senior goal for England as Sven-Göran Eriksson’s charges maintained their habit of winning important games by the narrowest of margins amid ugly scenes in Skopje last night, writes Jim Munro, football editor.
A 2-1 victory over Macedonia in a Euro 2004 qualifying tie was inspired by Rooney’s precise 25-yard drive on 53 minutes, an equalising goal that galvanised a lacklustre England team, some of whom had been goaded by the Macedonia players and racially abused by their fans.
After the game, England captain David Beckham, who had scored the winning goal with a 63rd-minute penalty, claimed that Macedonia players had spat at him, adding: “It’s hard to keep your cool when they are saying to you, ‘You’ll be lucky to get out of here alive’.”
Sol Campbell was one of the black players subjected to racial taunts. “It’s a shame when you go to these parts of the world and get these chants,” said Campbell. “It was a little bit ugly out there."
There were also questions regarding the England players’ celebrations, conducted in front of a small contingent of travelling fans who had ignored a self-imposed ban by the Football Association.
Asked to comment, Eriksson said: “I don’t know if it’s right or wrong. It’s spontaneous. You go to (celebrate) where you see an England flag.”
On the positive side, Rooney celebrated his first goal on his sixth appearance for his country with strike partner Michael Owen, the previous record holder, who was 18 years and 164 days when he scored against Morocco in May 1998.
“It was a great feeling for me to score my first England goal,” said Rooney. “Even better knowing it was in such an important game.
“If I’m being honest, I have to say that the result is more important to me than scoring the goal because it was a vital win for us.
“It was a difficult game in difficult circumstances.”