PODGORICA, Montenegro -- With one petulant kick, Wayne Rooney underlined his reputation as England's most gifted but reckless player and ensured his team will start next year's European Championship without its star striker.
The Manchester United forward began what proved to be a bittersweet night in Podgorica on Friday by playing a part in England's two early goals that helped clinch a 2-2 draw to seal qualification for next year's finals.
However, the 25-year-old Rooney ensured he would grab the headlines for all the wrong reasons by earning a straight red card in the 74th minute for kicking out at Miodrag Dzudovic.
Montenegro, behind 2-1 at the time, went on to claim a draw thanks to Andrija Delibasic's late equalizer.
The incident exacerbated Rooney's worries after a turbulent 48 hours for the striker, whose father and uncle were arrested for their alleged participation in a betting scam in a Scottish Premier League match.
Worse for Rooney and England, he will now miss at least one match in the group stage at the tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
"I'm not happy, absolutely. I told he made a silly mistake and he said he was sorry," England coach Fabio Capello said.
Top of the Premier League scoring charts with nine goals, Rooney has looked back to his fearsome best after a year to forget last season.
His stock fell at the start of an injury-plagued 2010/11 season when he was implicated in lurid tabloid claims that he cheated repeatedly on his then-pregnant wife Coleen with a prostitute.
He then enraged United fans and teammates in October by publicly threatening to quit the club after complaining about its inability to compete in the transfer market for top players.
Rooney was soon rewarded with a lucrative new contract and his form returned at the end of season as United won a record 19th Premier League title.
Just when it looked those troubles were behind him, a betting scandal involving his family broke. Now a red card which revived memories of his dismissal in the World Cup quarterfinals in 2006 for stamping on Portugal defender Ricardo Carvalho's groin.
"He's a really important player, has a lot of experience, and has played in really important games -- and he made a silly mistake," said Capello.
The Italian coach said he did not regret starting with Rooney, who Capello claimed was "calm and relaxed" despite the news of his relatives' arrests.
Capello will already be looking at alternatives to cope with Rooney's suspension at the start of Euro 2012.
"We will find a solution to play without him," Capello said. "We'll try some things out in the friendlies. I can't get into the head of players when they play a game."
Montenegro coach Branko Brnovic, whose team sealed a place in the two-legged qualification playoffs with the draw, believes Rooney's red card was a direct result of his family issues back home
"I read in the newspapers had some serious family problems in England. I didn't expect him to play," Brnovic said. "These things are serious for everyone and that's why he did what he did."