It’s been over a decade now since two of the brightest young names in football at the time made a moment that still clenches the fists of England fans today.
It was back in 2006 at the Germany World Cup, and England were through to their third Quarter-Final in succession against Portugal, a game which ended up being another third time in succession…of Quarter-Final defeats.
But this game isn’t remembered for yet another England heartache, instead it sticks in football history as club-mate cruelty with a simple facial expression that still haunts England hearts.
Wayne Rooney isn’t and wasn’t’ known for his particularly cool-headed nature and this was the case here when in the 62nd minute he stamped on Ricardo Carvalho where it hurts after being frustrated in the game.
But referee Horacio Marcelo Elizondo seemed to be feeling lenient to the youngster and appeared to be letting him off with a simple yellow card, until up stepped a passionate Portuguese who made his opinion very clear that marching orders should be given. Who was this Rooney rioter? None other than Manchester United team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo.
In a moment of backstabbing brutality unseen before on the global stage, the referee’s mind was swayed, and a straight red was pulled out of his pocket sinking England hopes.
What happened next was the pinnacle of the affair and probably the pinnacle of the cameraman’s career. As the picture zoomed to capture Ronaldo’s reaction, an unbelievable wink was sent in the direction of the Portugal bench as if to say: ‘job done’.
After the game finished a tense 0-0, penalties proved to be England’s enemy once again as Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Jamie Carragher all missed to allow Portugal to win 3-1. It wasn’t all bad as England did gain a couple of records… most World Cup exits from penalty shoot-outs in history and being involved in a shoot-out where the most saves were made. Great.
As the media storm was brewing after the match, Rooney showed surprise maturity as he tried to change the forecast saying: “I bear no ill feeling to Cristiano but am disappointed he chose to get involved.”
Ronaldo tried to calm the fire further and told the media: “At the end we texted each other and between us everything’s been cleared.
“He wasn’t angry with me and, moreover, he told me to completely ignore what the English press has said, that all they wanted was to create confusion.”
The man who’s gone onto be one of the greatest players in football history (no not Rooney) did stick it out at Manchester United for a couple more seasons after this event before moving onto sunny Spain and Real Madrid, but many football fans saw an evil side of Ronaldo that day that is still hard to shake.
Would you have forgiven Ronaldo? Should Wayne Rooney have been sent off? Let me know your thoughts in the comments and in the forums!
Images within the article courtesy of Getty Images
Featured Image created by Charlie Pumfrey