Soccer player Wayne Rooney’s recent comment that he wears rosary beads during soccer practice because he is Catholic has piqued the interest of sports enthusiasts who hope to hear more about his faith.
Rooney, who is a striker for England’s national team in the World Cup, was at a Wednesday conference with English journalists when a reporter asked about the rosary beads he wears around his neck during soccer practices.
According to the Mirror sports columnist John Cross, Rooney looked surprised and said “I've been wearing them four years now and you don't usually watch training. Obviously I can't wear them in games."
Asked why he wears them, the sportsman replied “It’s my religion.”
An FA press officer then stepped in and said, “We don’t do religion.”
Cross said it was “a shame” that the comment was interrupted, declaring that the fact Rooney is religious is of great consequence and interest. He noted that other players such as Jermain Defoe and Kolo Toure have spoken about their faith.
“It's interesting to me and I find it a shame that the topic was cut off before it could be explored,” the Mirror columnist wrote. “We live in an openly multi-cultural society, and yet it seems at times we're afraid to actually discuss those cultures in the open.”
Rooney displayed his rosary beads before the national anthems prior to the England-U.S. match.
Noting his enjoyment of religious education, the athlete has said that he might have been a priest if he had not been successful in soccer, the London Times reports.
Fr. Edward Quinn, Rooney’s parish priest in Liverpool, presided over his marriage to Coleen McLoughlin. He told the Times he thought Rooney’s wife provided the rosary beads.
“I have seen the pictures of Wayne wearing them and it doesn’t surprise me because both he and Coleen come from families with a strong Catholic faith.
“When I presided over Wayne and Coleen’s wedding in Italy, all of the guests received a set of rosary beads, so it is clearly a symbol which means a lot to them.”
The priest added that he believes it is good when high-profile figures demonstrate their faith “so clearly” because “it can only set a positive example that helps the Church.”