Wayne Rooney was center-stage on Tuesday night, the man of the people once again as Manchester United took on Glasgow Rangers in a Champions League Battle of Britain at Old Trafford.
The England international was back in Alex Ferguson’s team for the first time since sordid revelations about his private life and his dalliances with prostitutes made for very public headlines.
Left out of the squad that travelled to Everton last Saturday for a quite thrilling 3-3 draw, Rooney was the top draw in what was effectively a second string United side against the Scottish champions.
Anxious to avoid problems ahead of Sunday’s big Premier League clash with Liverpool, Fergie made a whopping 10 changes from the team that conceded two late goals to Everton for the Euro clash.
Only Darren Fletcher kept his place in the starting team, and even Ireland’s Darron Gibson managed to start the match on the pitch and not on the bench which is good news for Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni.
The Gibson call-up didn’t feature on the headline writers’ Richter Scale however.
Rooney fans, if there are any left out there, will argue that his return, along with that of the fit again Rio Ferdinand, was a vote of confidence from his Old Trafford boss, but that’s very much open to debate.
When he left Rooney back in a Manchester hotel last Saturday, the same hotel the player used for a threesome with two hookers, Ferguson apparently gave his striker the very famous hair dryer treatment – and that’s not something hookers can provide.
The message from Fergie was clear according to reports. Rooney has to sort his life out or Ferguson will kick him out, and no better man for it.
What’s sad here is that yet again one of the role models of English football is behaving like a backyard lout.
Rooney has more money than he will ever need -- and more money than sense by the looks of it.
He has a beautiful wife called Coleen who has adored his every move since they first met as childhood sweethearts, and a little son called Kai who will never want for anything.
Yet, like so many other footballers in their pampered world, Rooney saw fit to treat those who love him, those who look up to him and those who employ him with total contempt in recent times.
He might lose his wife in the coming weeks, but it’s doubtful, and he might lose some of that Shrek face with his manager, but will he really care? Doubtful.
Until such time as the likes of Pepsi and Nike and his other major sponsors make an issue of Rooney’s disgraceful behavior and hit him where it hurts -- in the pocket -- then Rooney and his likes will continue to act in a manner that is abhorrent to common and decent people all over the world.
I wouldn’t hold my breath, however. Serial cheater Tiger Woods is still worth a fortune, even if half of it has gone to his wife, and will be a mainstay of the U.S. Ryder Cup team in Wales next month.
Paris cheat Thierry Henry is now earning millions of dollars thanks to the stupidity of the impressionable Yanks who run the Red Bulls in New York after making a move which is, apparently, a major endorsement of American soccer.
Back in London, Ashley Cole is divorced from his wife and living the life of Reilly with Chelsea, and fellow love rat Peter Crouch is still revered at Spurs.
And on Tuesday night millions of kids tuned in for their Champions League fix on RTE and Sky and ITV and dreamed of life as the next Wayne Rooney. It’s pathetic, isn’t it?
Who’s Lar Corbett?
They love their hurling in Tipperary, and they are still celebrating their recent demolition of Kilkenny’s “Drive For Five,” but not everyone seems to be getting the message.
Anyone who watched that All-Ireland final win over the Cats will know that Lar Corbett won the man of the match award by the proverbial country mile.
His hat-trick of goals played a huge part, not just in Tipp’s eight point win but in setting the tone for a day that was all about the Premier County and their quest for a “one in a row.”
Naturally, Corbett has been the center of attention ever since.
He’s popped up in all our newspapers on a frequent basis since his day in the Croke Park sun and every television and radio show worth its salt has interviewed the great Thurles Sarsfields clubman.
Just last Saturday, Corbett was the guest of honor on the RTE Afternoon Show with a live interview from the commentary point at the Semple Stadium ground in his hometown which he has graced so beautifully for many years.
The intention was simple -- RTE were there for Saturday night’s All-Ireland under-21 final and they planned to talk to senior hero Corbett from the same venue in the afternoon.
Imagine the embarrassment then when a job’s worth at Semple Stadium refused to allow Corbett into the ground two hours before the big match.
The over-fussy official, unimpressed by Corbett’s new found stature as the High King of Tipp, blankly refused to let his man in despite being told, repeatedly at that, who he was.
Eventually someone saw the error of their ways and Corbett gained admittance in time for his interview, but not before he was brought down to earth by the man with the blazer.
All of which reminds me of a story concerning the Olympic gold medal winner Sebastian Coe and Chelsea Football Club many years ago.
Not long after his 1,500 meter triumph in Los Angeles at the 1994 games, Coe turned up at Stamford Bridge as a guest of the then Chelsea owner Ken Bates.
Unfortunately he arrived on the wrong side of the ground just 10 minutes before kickoff, and the steward in charge of operations refused to let him in and told him to go back out and around to the far stand.
When Coe pointed out that he was the reigning Olympic champion, said steward came out with a classic.
“It won’t take you long to get there then, will it!” remarked the steward.
GAA: If you haven’t been home for a while you might not know that we were recently invaded by a series of motorways linking Dublin with places like Galway, Belfast, Limerick, Cork and now Waterford. So good is the new system that the Cork team are going to break with tradition and travel by coach rather than train to Sunday’s All-Ireland football final clash with Down. Cork may take comfort from the fact that they are staying in the Burlington Hotel on Sunday night, the same hotel which hosted the victorious Tipp team for the hurling final.
GAA: Bit of a clash for Down physio Noel Rice, whose wife Adele is expecting their first child on Sunday -- the same day the Ulstermen face Cork in the All-Ireland final at Croke Park. His loyalties may be split, but Noel intends to be with his wife if she goes into labor on Sunday. Adele however is confident she will be late and the Rice family will have double cause for celebration next week.
SOCCER: Shocking story from Holland, where the former Celtic midfielder Evander Sno, still only 23, suffered a heart attack and collapsed during a reserve team game for Ajax on Monday night. Sno was revived four times and is currently recuperating in an Amsterdam hospital. Quick thinking by the medical team at the Vitesse Arnhem ground saved Sno’s life.
SOCCER: Congratulations to the Cork referee Alan Kelly, who became the first Irish man to take charge of a Champions League group stage fixture on Wednesday night when he travelled to Romania for the game between CFR Cluj and Basel. His father Pat was a great referee in his day – and a shocking nice man to boot.
HERO OF THE WEEK
The sisters are doing it for themselves this week with a host of Caribbean queens flying the flag for Irish sport. Katie Taylor is through to the quarterfinals of the world boxing championships in Barbados as she seeks a third straight title. And over in Trinidad and Tobago, the Ireland under-17 girls team are through to their World Cup quarterfinal after an emphatic 3-0 win over Ghana on Monday night saw them top a group that included Brazil. Take a bow, girls.
IDIOTS OF THE WEEK
A joint honor this week, to be shared by the England footballer Wayne Rooney and his mate, the former world champion boxer Ricky Hatton. Rooney wants to save his marriage after bedding more hookers, while Hatton wants to save himself after he was caught on camera taking cocaine. The two of them should be locked in the same room and the key thrown away.