Martin Smith column: Why Wayne Rooney and Andy Murray are worlds apart

Andy Murray celebrates winning the championship during day eight of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at The O2, London.
Andy Murray celebrates winning the championship during day eight of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at The O2, London.
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There’s only 18 months between them, they’ve been the most talented sportsmen of their generation who have carried the burden of a capricious public’s overblown expectations since they were teenagers.

On the face of it there are many similarities between Andy Murray and Wayne Rooney.

Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney

One is a national figure, tough, determined and successful with a cupboard full of medals and records galore to his name.

The other is world number one tennis player.

That they find themselves in such different places in the public’s perception today is a story of character and cultures, the tale of these islands embodied in two young men.

But Rooney is a disgrace, you say, a let-down on the pitch and an occasional drinker off it while Murray’s talent, strength of character and desire to win have given him the self-discipline of a world class athlete.

Recent pictures of Rooney in an England top, with tired eyes and red-wine lips are fairly damning, the tales that surround his alleged behaviour at a wedding party in the England team’s hotel even more so - if true.

As a football fan I’d love to defend Rooney and acclaim his special talent, desire and energy.

He’s taken a lot of knocks from fans and pundits, some self-inflicted, but has always given everything on the pitch.

He’s a family man who works for children’s charities through the Wayne Rooney Foundation and will no doubt go on to do a lot more.

I’d love to say his behaviour was down to the laddish drinking culture that he grew up in and that still lingers around British football and football fans.

And to some extent it is.

But there comes a time when the captain of England and Manchester United has to be smarter than to get himself in such a position in any public place.

Murray and Rooney are British sporting icons because they have amazing talent and an incredible will to win.

One had everything early in his career, the other had to work harder to achieve his potential.

Even at the age of 31 Rooney has time to win back the fans and his reputation, he’s been here before and bounced back.

Murray, by contrast, is on top of the world now, sober, modest and fulfilled.

The Scotsman’s time has come but the Englishman’s is fast slipping away.

Millions will be hoping that there’s one last grandstand finish left in the England captain.