Manchester United striker Rooney headed to Brazil 2014 as a striker under pressure, with his place in the England team reported to be under threat as Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge emerged as the first-choice striker for national team boss Roy Hodgson and Rooney's status as his country's talisman faded.
Rooney had played in two previous World Cups, made eight appearances in the 2006 and 2010 finals combined, been on the pitch for 594 minutes and had yet to register a solitary goal in the biggest competition of all and the critics were quick to suggest his better days were behind him.
The signs were there that the striker would fare better at this World Cup, though. His comments prior to this tournament suggested he was keen to defy his doubters with some starring displays in the World Cup, with his confidence a few days before England's opener with Italy boding well for his hopes.
"I feel great, better than I have done for years. I'm ready for this tournament. If know if I can play my game, I'll do well," he told a news conference last week. "I've always been hard on myself. I've maybe put myself under too much pressure before. Maybe the media have put me under a lot of pressure and I've tried to respond to that.
"This time I haven't and I'm not going to. I'm going to enjoy it. I didn't enjoy the last ones. I'm going to make sure I take positive memories from this one."
Now -- as he raced into the box to convert a tap-in from Glen Johnson against Uruguay -- the moment he has waited eight years to experience has arrived. However, the result, a 2-1 defeat, was not how he would have wanted to crown it.