When Wayne Rooney traveled with the England squad to Portugal, he was yet to sign the record-breaking deal with Manchester United. He had announced his arrival on the big scene with several high profile goals for Everton but now he needed to showcase the same form with an England team which invariably under performed in big tournaments.
His very first match in Euro 2004 was hardly remarkable as England slumped to a 2-1 defeat against defending champions France. Their next game was against Switzerland. Kobi Kuhn’s side were yet to reach the defensive impenetrability which would see them become the first team to be knocked out of a World Cup without conceding a goal in 2006, but nonetheless the Swiss were a tough, physical side, capable of making life difficult for any team.
After a quiet first match, the 18 year-old Rooney made his permanent mark on International football with a breathtaking performance against Switzerland. He opened the scoring on 23rd minute and calmed English nerves with another goal on 75th minute. A third goal for Lampard gave England a good chance of qualifying for the last eight.
Four days later, Rooney once again turned on his magic. His two goals, either side of half time, meant that England defeated Croatia 4-2 in a cliff-hanger. Wayne Rooney had announced his emphatic arrival on the International stage. Unfortunately, he would get injured and would be unable to prevent England’s exit against Portugal in quarter-final. However, Rooney’s performance in Euro 2004 remains the finest show by an English striker in an International tournament since Paul Gascoigne’s feat in Italia 1990.