Setting the stage on fire with the second chance

Setting the stage on fire with the second chance

Bengaluru FC have enjoyed a high-flying start to the rigours of I-League and one of the main reasons for that is their shrewd purchase of foreign players.

Former Middlesborough academy product centre back John Johnson has already earned the sobriquet of being the club’s wall, the Kenyan Curtis Osano who has been superb alongside Johnson at the heart of the defense and Johnny Menyongar, who has been instrumental in breaking down opposition attacks with ease.

The fourth foreign player to have helped BFC’s rise has arguably been their most important signing. Australia’s Sean Rooney.

While his first innings in the I-League, with Goan side Salgaocar failed, Rooney has already started to make for lost time in his second innings.

Speaking about his time so far with BFC, Rooney, with an Australian accent that is hard to miss, says that the club set-up is phenomenal.

“I wouldn’t expect this (the set-up) to be anywhere else in India. And the crowd have also been brilliant cheering us along all the way,” says Rooney.

The forward has only signed on for a year but concedes that if he keeps performing, and if the club is willing to offer an extention to his contract, he would gladly sign an extention.
It’s also clear that Rooney enjoys the company of the foreign players. “We all get along really well and they are all good players as you would have seen by now.”

While he doesn’t want to delve in depth about his Salgaocar experience, Rooney says ‘I had my positives and negatives... my ups and downs.’

When asked about his name and whether people have made any comparisons between him and his more illustrious counterpart from England, he laughs it off.

Rooney, who represented Australia in the under-20 World Cup in Egypt in 2009, calls playing in the World Cup as an ‘unbelievable experience.’ “It’s a different culture there (World Cup). Superb experience and it was definitely a honour to play for Australia in a World Cup.”

Australia were in a tough group with Costa Rica, Czech Republic and Brazil and went out without getting a point. But Rooney doesn’t see it that way. “Playing the likes of Brazil was an incredible experience and one of the players that I faced (Douglas Costa) now plays for Shakhtar Donetsk.”

While growing up, Rooney looked up Manchester United’s Ruud van Nistelrooy, the Dutch striker.

“I looked up Nistelrooy when I was growing up. You always try and watch them play so you learn,” he explains.

Rooney, who plays as the lead striker for BFC, used to play anywhere along on the front three when he was making his club debut back in Australia.

Australia, who have qualified for the 2014 World Cup, once used to produce quality talents like Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka and Tim Cahill. Now the production line is a bit empty and Rooney agrees.

“While there are still good players coming out from the country, we haven’t produced anybody like Mark Viduka, that No 9 sort of striker, for a long time.

“While most players go on to Europe, the important thing is to keep playing lot of matches,” he points out.

Rooney, who has an Irish father and an Italian mother, was born in Blacktown (New South Wales), Australia, and started to make the grade while playing as a semi-professional at the tender age of 15. 

The hard as nails Rooney, whose bulging biceps are tattooed with religious texts, then went on a two-week trial to English Premier League side West Ham United. The club called him back but as he had suffered a stress fracture to his back, he wasn’t able to go.
He then went to Italy to represent one of the minor clubs in the fifth division before moving back to Australia with Newcastle Jets in the ‘A’ League – their top-tier football league.

Rooney had enjoyed some success in the A League and represented the club in the Asian Champions League (Asia’s version of the European Champions League) before BFC came calling in July this year.

The stocky framed Rooney,who is adept at scoring with both his feet, has made a very good first impresion and is in fact the joint top scorer of this yet fledgling I-League season with three goals. 

Will it last? If he keeps up his work rate, and there is no reason he won’t, he could easily help keep BFC near the top of the table.

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