In Defense of Rooney

An English reader protests my take on the English football player, Wayne Rooney:

Thuggish he may appear, but he is, unlike say a Vinnie Jones or any of umpteen Milwall hatchet men, a prodigious footballer, with grace, balance, timing and all the rest of it fused in one of those rare comings-together that produce talent that transcends their surroundings. Men far, far more knowledgeable and experienced than I am describe him as potentially a "great" on the scale of a Best, or a Maradonna. Like you, I am a former rugby player more than a soccer player, but I can recognise his brilliance in a way that I cannot see the skill of more humdrum players. To find this exquisite skill in a form so troll-like is startling, but it is as a footballer that one has to assess him.

The clip you link to does at least include some of the evidence that there is a case to be made that his dismissal was harsh, and that he is no shifty fouler.
Again, it's probably my grounding in rugby, but I find the diving, the faking, the dramatising appeals to the ref and so on of football infuriating. Rooney strives to stay on his feet, he works hard. He is our greatest footballer for decades - celebrate him!