Wayne Rooney: 'England's greatest striker' bags record
Bobby Charlton graciously concedes England goal-scoring record he has held for 45 years
England 2 Switzerland 0.
Wayne Rooney created history on Tuesday night at Wembley, scoring his 50th goal for England and becoming his country's leading goalscorer.
In reaching his half-century, Rooney surpassed Bobby Charlton's tally of 49, a mark which has stood for 45 years.
"It's a dream come true and a huge honour," Rooney said later. "To be a country's leading scorer before the age of 30, I'm extremely proud. I went through a spell around 2008 when I didn't score for England but since Roy (Hodgson) has come in I've scored quite a few and I'm grateful to him."
Rooney had equalled Charlton's record last week in the 6-0 thrashing of San Marino, but Switzerland were expected to prove tougher opponents in the Three Lions' Euro 2016 qualifier. Already assured of their place in next summer's tournament, England lacked a cutting edge against the Swiss and it took them more than hour to break down the visitors.
Substitute Harry Kane broke the deadlock on 67 minutes and six minutes from time England were awarded a penalty when Granit Xhaka felled Raheem Sterling.
"It was a big moment for me," said Rooney, when asked about taking the spot kick. "I picked my corner and put my boot through it and got as much power as possible and the keeper got a touch but luckily it had enough power."
The goal was not only a personal milestone but it also continued England's unbeaten run in Group E with eight wins from eight matches. Next month they host Estonia at Wembley in their penultimate match before ending the qualification process with a trip to Lithuania.
They are already guaranteed a place in the tournament – and another chance for Rooney to make an impact on the world stage. "If Rooney's England career will be defined by anything other than his goal record," says the BBC, "it will be his mystifying failure to transform his brilliant natural talent to a major tournament with England."
But for Hodgson, it was a night to savour present accomplishments.
"I wasn't at all satisfied with the first half but Wayne is the story of the night," explained Hodgson, who fielded a 4-3-3 system. "We are so delighted for Wayne. We made a small presentation in the dressing room to Wayne, a football shirt with 50 on the back. He gave a very good speech in accepting that. I don't think Sir Bobby Charlton will be too disappointed."
Rooney has taken 107 games to reach 50 goals (one match more than Charlton) and Sir Bobby was generous in his praise of the man who has usurped his crown.
"I obviously cannot deny that I am disappointed that I now don't hold this record," he said "However, I am absolutely delighted that it is Wayne, as captain of my beloved club and country, who now holds this record. On behalf of myself and everyone at Manchester United I would like to say 'Congratulations Wayne, this is a very proud moment for you and your family'."
The two men will meet next month at Wembley before the Estonia game when Charlton presents Rooney with a commemorative golden boot to mark his half-century of goals.