Caley Thistle's Rooney: Everything I accomplish is for my mum
As a young footballer, Shaun Rooney just wanted to make his parents proud. None of that has changed now mum Elizabeth is gone.
The Caley Thistle defender tragically lost his mother to cancer on July 18 this year.
It was a harrowing time for the 23-year-old, who was granted compassionate leave by the club just as the season got under way.
The grieving process continues, but Rooney has returned to Inverness a more driven, determined and focused individual than ever before.
Everything he does now, on and off the field, will be in tribute to the loved one he so desperately misses.
Manager John Robertson has already identified a new maturity and resolve underpinning his player’s performances and conduct.
“While my mum was still alive, she said would always keep fighting and I said I would try to fight for her as well,” the right-back recalled.
“The two of us made an agreement. I would get myself fitter and she would get herself fitter. Obviously, things didn’t work out with my mum in the end, but she’s always there watching down on me.
“I always try to make her proud.
“It has been a hard time for me and a hard time for my dad Thomas. When I go down the road to the family home at Bellshill, mum isn’t there anymore. She was a huge part of our lives.
“She did everything for me – cooked, ironed and did my washing. My bedsheets up here haven’t been washed since!
“Everything she did in life was for the house and for the family and I couldn’t have asked for a better mum to bring me up.
“Everything I do in my life and career now will be for her. I’m happy with that.”
Rooney was overwhelmed by the response of staff and team-mates at Caley Thistle.
“I had a lot of support from the club and my team-mates. I got time off when mum passed away and it meant a lot, with Scot Gardiner our chief executive coming down for the funeral,” he said.
“Obviously I was injured at the time as well so I couldn’t do much. I just wanted to get back.
“You obviously do want to have your own time to yourself, but it was me sitting about by just greeting away.
“I went in to Queen of the South when I was down the road and they were happy to take me and get some ankle work done, some strengthening. It has worked – I did a lot of good fitness work down there as well.
“When I came back up here, they thought I was a little bit ahead of where he thought I would be, so Queens were a credit.
“I’m just very grateful to my team-mates, the manager and club for the time off and for their support at the time of the funeral.”
While Robertson will ring the changes – up to eight today for the Challenge Cup – Rooney will retain his place as he rebuilds full match fitness.
“I just like playing football, so I’d rather be involved anyway,” Rooney said.
“The Morton win last Friday was enjoyable. It took us a wee while to get into our stride, but when we did it was a joy to watch and a joy to play in.
“There will be a few changes with a lot of the lads rested and Morton, obviously, might make changes as well.
“Hopefully we can secure the same result, but knowing what David Hopkin is like, it won’t be easy - they will be looking for revenge.
“We want to win the tie. If we work harder than them, the result should come no matter how many changes we make.”
Rooney will be glad to see Caley Thistle’s more youthful players given a run-out.
“The young lads like Roddy, Machado, Cammy Harper are always training with us and are always good to work with,” he said.
“Hopefully they get the run-out they deserve because they’ve been working hard in training. Hopefully if they get their chance, they take it well.”