It was yesterday's Alastair Campbell moment. When Wayne Rooney was asked about the prominent cross he has been wearing during training here he replied: "It's my religion." This seemed to open up an interesting new flank in the Rooney story until the Football Association's head of media relations, Mark Whittle, offered an aside reminiscent of Campbell telling Tony Blair: "We don't do God." Whittle replied for Rooney: "We don't do religion." Rooney, currently an officer of state of Blairite proportions, had already offered enough information to offer an intriguing insight into his Catholicism, though. Of the cross he said: "I've been wearing them for years now and you don't usually watch training [to see them.] I obviously can't wear them in games."
The timing suggests that his recourse to Catholicism may have had its roots in his search for redemption after the events of Gelsenkirchen in 2006, though it seems that Rooney's wife, Coleen, has had more influence than a red card against Portugal. She comes from a devout Catholic family and her father, Tony, is a particularly devoted, practising Catholic. Religion has formed a part in Rooney's own life, though, from the letters "RC" to be found on his birth certificate to an education at Our Lady and St Swithin's Roman Catholic Primary, a ten-minute walk from his childhood Liverpool home, and his particular success at religious education there. "Wayne's recall of stories about the life of Jesus is quite detailed. His contributions to discussions show him to be a caring child who responds to the needs of others," read a formative school report.
The Rooney clan did not attend mass very often, though his own childhood memories include a priest visiting the house about once a week, usually to collect money. "I believed in Jesus of course, did drawings of him at school and I said my prayers most evenings," he recalled a few years ago. "Usually, though, I was praying for Everton to win on Saturday."