Who are ya – will the real Wayne Rooney please stand up?

Here we go (again)… England’s footballers have become the toast of the nation for all of the wrong reasons.

The FA are reported to be ‘furious’ after 10 of the national team’s squad went out on a 4.30am ‘bender’ after their 3-0 win over Scotland.

Skipper Wayne ‘Wazza’ Rooney quite sensibly decided to stay at the team hotel but was then reported to have stayed up drinking until 5am after being invited to join in a wedding reception where he was pictured somewhat worse for wear.

Rooney – England’s record goalscorer – has apologised but it all seems so familiar; we’ve been here before.

Nobody expects players to be saints. Indeed some of our most talented footballers have enjoyed a tipple or two.  Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne is one notable example. Not to mention George Best, Tony Adams and many others…

But these days image is everything and reputation is so hard to rebuild once it has been tarnished. Whether they like it or not players are role models and the stakes have never been higher with so much money in football.

Any indiscretion or embarrassment reflects badly on the national game, the FA and sponsors – not to mention the players themselves.

In a 24/7 age of mobile technology and social media, footballers are more than ever likely to be caught out when they fall short of the expected standards.

This can make it difficult for the player’s media team or agent to handle – and sometimes the only answer is a ‘mea culpa’ with an unequivocal apology.

In business too, it can create a bad impression if someone smells strongly of alcohol or has a reputation as someone who is too fond of a drink. It sends all of the wrong signals, destroys confidence and wrecks potentially fruitful relationships.

The shame for Wayne Rooney is that he had managed to rebuild his reputation after some well-publicised youthful indiscretions.

At a turning point of his career, let’s hope we look back in future at Wayne Rooney for all of the rights reasons.