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There’s something reassuring about Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s American jaunts

We all secretly just want to ride off into the sunset and bang goals in America

These are confusing times for football.

Usain Bolt is a professional footballer, Samir Nasri isn’t. Neither are Miguel Veloso, Jan Kirchoff nor Didier Ndong, for that matter.

So it’s reassuring to see two beacons of the last 20 years, Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, still shining brightly from across the Atlantic.

Still doing Zlatan things

Still doing Zlatan things

Rooney and Ibrahimovic entered uncharted territory in 2018.

Both found themselves on the footballing scrapheap, unwanted by their respective clubs as newer models rolled off the production line equipped with pace, power, Snapchat filters and Fortnite celebrations.

We needn’t have worried.

Approaching Christmas party period, in which you’ll make questionable life choices that will almost certainly come back to haunt you at work, Rooney and Ibra are flying.

Literally trying to fly

Literally trying to fly

Rooney’s scored nine goals in 17 MLS games to turn DC United from relegation fodder to unlikely Eastern Conference playoff contenders.

The 32-year-old went full Roy of the Rovers against Orlando City, tracking back in the 95th minute to stop a counter-attack before turning around and launching the ball into the box to set up the winning goal.

Wazza’s reaction was one of exhaustion and bashfulness, as if he was just doing his bit and wasn’t worthy of the standing ovation his actions caused.

Ibrahimovic has been even more prolific, netting 21 times in 25 appearances to guide LA Galaxy into the Western Conference playoffs.

The Swede made a typically understated arrival in the land of the stars, thundering Galaxy towards a first Los Angeles derby win and breaking social media in the process.

Hollywood? Nope, just Zlatan being Zlatan.

Using the trusty one-in-two metric, which faultlessly gauges a striker’s ability, both Rooney and Ibrahimovic still possess unerring accuracy when it comes to spoiling goalkeepers’ sheets.

There’s something nostalgically reassuring about the way they’ve hit the ground running.

America’s first foray into football was the North American Soccer League, or NASL, which started in 1968 and finished- all rusted goalposts, faded kits and popped balloons- in 1984.

NASL, like MLS, saw an influx of player who, at one point in time, were genuinely considered world-class.

Not all men are created equal

Not all men are created equal

Many arrived out of shape and in the mood to party. But the goals still flowed.

George Best scored 21 in 56 for San Jose Earthquakes, while Pele scored 31 times in the same time frame for New York Cosmos.

Peter Beardsley netted 20 in 48 for Vancouver Whitecaps, Johan Cruyff struck 13 times in 23 games for Los Angeles Aztecs and Giorgio Chinaglia scored 193 goals in 213 appearances alongside Pele at the Cosmos.

Even Franz Beckenbauer helped himself to two goals in New York.

The German John Stones

The German John Stones

So, at a time when the 100m and 200m world record holder requires his own Wikipedia section for professional football, just look across the pond for sanity.

The standard has undoubtedly improved beyond recognition, but America is still a place for ageing strikers to go and plunder goals for a few years.

Long may that continue.

Ol’ Blue Eyes

Ol’ Blue Eyes


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