Talisman Wayne Rooney's goal drought stretched on as England crashed out of the FIFA World Cup™ at the hands of old rivals Germany on Sunday. Drawing a blank in the match in Bloemfontein means the Manchester United star, after a stellar season for his club, has still never found the net at a FIFA World Cup.
He came to South Africa billed as one of the world's top players along with the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo but has now failed to net in eight finals matches - including against minnows Algeria and Slovenia.
England goalkeeper David James said Germany should take credit for nullifying Rooney. "You have to give credit to the opposition. The teams know how good he is and they did all they can to stop him from playing," said James.
"He wasn't given freedom and today there were times when he had to come deep in order to pick the ball up and I always say if he has to do that then he's not getting the joy up front. Again that has to be credit towards the opposition in the way they nullified his offensive capabilities."
Winning his 64th cap in the Free State stadium, Rooney struggled to make an impact early on, with his touch heavy as England failed to find a rhythm in front of thousands of fans who turned the game into virtual home match.
He [Rooney] wasn't given freedom and today there were times when he had to come deep in order to pick the ball up and I always say if he has to do that then he's not getting the joy up front.
Minutes after Germany opened the scoring on 20 minutes through Miroslav Klose, Rooney lashed wide from outside the penalty box and Lukas Podolski soon doubled Germany's lead before England pulled one back through Matthew Upson.
As the second half wore on Rooney began to exert more influence on the game, probing around the edge of the box. But England failed to find a second goal as Rooney's influence once again faded, with his team-mates unable to put him in clear goalscoring positions. Germany scored twice more through Thomas Mueller to make it 4-1 and turn the evening into a disastrous occasion for England.
Rooney came into the match with 25 international goals but no goal for club or country since he scored for Manchester United in their UEFA Champions League defeat against Bayern Munich in March. Despite nine goals in nine FIFA World Cup qualifiers, he has not netted for England since scoring in the 5-1 win over Croatia in September 2009.
Rooney was a shadow of his marauding self in South Africa, cutting a frustrated figure as England laboured to qualify from their group. His problems even prompted club boss Sir Alex Ferguson to pick up the phone to call his star striker amid fears over the weight of expectation on his shoulders.