Sam Wallace: Who said this father-to-be can't grow up?

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The Independent Football

If Wayne Rooney was in any doubt as to whether he should choose the birth of his child over playing for Manchester United against CSKA in Moscow later this month then he should heed the advice of his fellow Scouser, and former England team-mate, Jamie Carragher.

In his autobiography, the Liverpool defender recounts in detail how he came to realise he had made one of the biggest mistakes of his life by deciding to travel to Switzerland to play against Basle in 2002 rather than attend the birth of his first child.

The day began with Carragher ignoring the advice of his team-mate Danny Murphy, who told him at the airport to go home. It ended with Carragher returning after the game and guiltily holding his son, James, for the first time. "I still owe Nicola [his wife] a massive apology," he wrote later. "I badly let her down. My obsession with football affected my judgement."

The criticism most often levelled at Rooney is he lacks maturity. It would therefore be completely unjustified for him to be criticised for the grown-up decision to support his wife and child at such an important moment.

That Rooney should instinctively see it as his duty to be an attentive husband should be celebrated. United might pay Rooney a lot of money but that does not entitle them to claim his services at the times in his life when any other person would be permitted to be with their family.

The school of thought that men should be men and leave the kids to their wives might have been acceptable in the days when footballers smoked pipes and caught the bus to matches but times have changed. The notion that it is somehow less manly to choose attending the birth of a child over playing football is farcical. Just ask a tough-nut like Carragher.