In front of a lacklustre 75,751 at Wembley in a near-dead rubber at the twilight of a timid European Championship campaign against international also-rans Switzerland with a half-saved penalty, the setting for Wayne Rooney becoming England's record international goalscorer was befitting of his career. Though his new position above Sir Bobby Charlton should not be discredited and undermined, it is overshadowed by his inconsequential impact for his country which leaves barely a mark on his nation's footballing history.
Rooney's goals may have helped England qualify for a sixth global tournament during his international career, which for a team fed by the multi-billion pound Premier League should be the minimum expectation, the achievement is hardly one worth resting ones reputation on. The Manchester United captain says he would trade in all his goals for some silverware with England; at least he realises the true value of legacy.
It is another example where statistics blind and warp true reality. While Charlton and Gary Lineker's career were illuminated by goals at World Cup finals, the fondest memories of Rooney come at the start of his international career at Euro 2004, where four goals (including a dubiously awarded second against the Swiss) saw him finish behind Milan Baros in pursuit of the golden boot. Bar longevity, which has now only seen five players win more England caps, and consistency – two vastly underrated attributes of a now modern-day disposable football career, Rooney is merely a statistic and a pub quiz answer.
San Marino, Ecuador, Andorra, Kazakhstan and Estonia are among the footballing superpowers to take their place on Rooney's hitlist. Though the England captain should not be punished for the broadening of the international game, a far cry from the opposition regularly faced by Charlton, Jimmy Greaves and Nat Lofthouse, it does dilute an honour which should be regarded among the highest for one's country.
The reality is the title of being a country's highest goalscorer is not so much a fine achievement, as it is a dawning inevitability of a modern game where there is a huge dilution in the quality of opposition, not to mention a greater number of matches over a shorter period. The institutions of Portugal, France, Netherlands, Germany, Uruguay, Spain and Colombia are among those whose record scorers are either still playing, or have very recently retired. So though Rooney's record should not be forgotten, it merely signifies the passing of time rather than an important moment. Save the Sports Personality of the Year nominations for another year.