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15th Nov 2018

Brian Kerr discusses attempt to get Wayne Rooney to play for Ireland

"He has the Irish look."

Darragh Murphy

Wayne Rooney

England’s record goalscorer might have ended up smashing the goals in for the Republic of Ireland if Brian Kerr got his way.

Because of his Irish grandmother, Wayne Rooney was eligible to play for the Republic of Ireland but he was only ever going to represent his native England.

Rooney’s England career came to an end in November 2018 as he received an unexpected farewell party, coming off the bench on the hour-mark of England’s friendly victory over the United States of America. Once upon a time, however, Kerr did his damnedest to make Rooney an Irish international.

Prior to the 33-year-old’s international swan-song, Kerr explained how he was made aware of Rooney’s talent and how his curiosity was piqued by the forward’s “Irish look.”

Speaking on Virgin Sport, the former Ireland manager said: “Noel O’Reilly went to a youth cup match one night and rang me after it, I was at a different game. He told me how outstanding Rooney was.

“He scored four goals in the match for Everton and he was only 15.

“Noel said to me that this lad was special and that he was going to be one of the great players.

“And he said: ‘I think he might be eligible for us. He has the Irish look. He has freckles and kind of a hair colouring and shape of head.’

“I said that if he was that good then maybe we mightn’t get him but I made the few enquiries.

“He was in the English set-up and there was an agent involved already so it was unlikely but I think he would have been eligible under the grandparent rule.”

What could have been for Ireland. Imagine Rooney and Robbie Keane going to work on opposition defences for the best part of a decade and a half…

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