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Rooney scores online

The young England player, Wayne Rooney, may be the rising star of Euro 2004, but he is also fast becoming the most popular footballer on the net too, according to a report by web registration firm NetNames.

England's hero has notched up an impressive 10 domains in his name – that’s just one behind former golden boy Michael Owen, who currently holds second place on the domain name chart - and five ahead of Monday night’s fellow goal-scorer Frank Lampard.

NetNames' Jonathan Robinson argues that this is the result of a media playing field where sports stars become increasingly lucrative "brands" in their own right.

The youth market in particular is very often the first to look to the web to find information on a product or celebrities.

“Rising football stars have the potential to become huge brands so they need to protect their online identities early on in their careers,” said Jonathan Robinson, business development director at NetNames.

People tend to associate fame with money, which drives many speculative web entrepreneurs to the net. If they do not move quickly, they may have their name hijacked by someone else who could cash in on the name.

“By registering and retaining control of website addresses associated with his name, rising stars like Wayne Rooney can make sure that they do not fall into the hands of third-parties and potential domain name speculators," added Robinson.

This prevents any issues of "cyber squatting" or net name speculation.

Manager Sven has four domain names dedicated to him, but the top global sporting icon remains David Beckham, with an incredible 111 domain names registered by fans around the world – an increase of 43 since the 2002 World Cup in Japan.

Sources: BBC Online, NetNames, Web User News

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