Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Wayne Rooney defends decision to make England farewell against United States

Wayne Rooney England 2016 Getty Images
Kristopher Love | 15 November, 2018, 21:31

Rooney, 33, is England's all-time leading scorer with 53 goals but has not represented his country since lining up against Scotland at Wembley in November 2016 and the decision to recall him has split opinion.

Enough good ones that he's been capped 119 times - more than any English player except goalkeeper Peter Shilton, who retired with 125 caps.

Despite the opposition to it, the match against the U.S. appears to be set up as a Wayne Rooney testimonial, and although he'll be starting on the bench, the forward will take centre stage when he's brought on according to the Evening Standard's James Olley.

Shilton claimed Rooney's return was "devaluing" an England call-up.

Rooney scored a record 53 goals in his first 119 worldwide appearances as the spearhead of the so-called "Golden Generation", which included the likes of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and David Beckham and was criticised for failing to challenge at World Cups and European Championships.

Rooney will pull on the national team shirt one last time against the U.S. on Thursday evening as the Football Association look to give the former Everton and Manchester United striker a fitting send-off.

Asked about scoring on his farewell appearance, he said: "It's not important".

I think every federation should reward players who have had a great history with the team, whether it's giving them a game or other ways. "We were going to do a game before the World Cup but it was not the right timing", Rooney said.

"Speaking to the FA, we felt it was right, this was the way the FA wanted to move forward". He also shot down reports that he might be open to returning to England to play at the club level.

"I made the decision to go the States and when I make a decision I tend to stick with it".

Five-times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton vowed to raise the bar further next year as he told Mercedes factory staff on Tuesday never to stop believing in what they can achieve. "It's important that I give my full commitment to D.C".

"I've stepped back from that now and can analyse it, and see it was there". Of course it's something different and I'm not asking people to agree with it.

Rooney also said it would not be fair to his four children to move them again.

He added: "I'll finish my career there".

Rooney's return has divided opinion, but those in the U.S. camp - where Rooney now plays for DC United - are in favour of the move.