Wayne Rooney debate: should he play again for England?
Three Lions’s record goalscorer is set to make a farewell appearance at Wembley
The Football Association has confirmed that Wayne Rooney will come out of international retirement to play one final time for England at Wembley Stadium.
A friendly match against the United States on Thursday 15 November has been billed as “A Wayne Rooney Foundation International” with proceeds going towards the former Manchester United and Everton striker’s charitable interests.
Rooney, who now plays in the US for Major League Soccer side DC United, retired from international football in August after scoring an all-time record 53 goals in 119 games for England.
The 33-year-old will now get the chance to win his 120th cap for the Three Lions and says he is honoured to be given the opportunity.
Speaking to TheFA.com, he said: “I am truly humbled and hugely excited to play for England at Wembley again. I would like to thank Gareth Southgate and The FA for inviting me back and helping to support my foundation in the process.
“Playing for England was the greatest honour of my career, so winning my 120th – and final – cap will be a particularly special moment for me. It’s fitting that the match will be against the USA and I hope that both sets of fans enjoy the game.”
‘A complete mockery of football’
Not everyone is happy with the news that Rooney will win one last cap for the Three Lions.
Former Chelsea and Celtic striker Chris Sutton says that Rooney’s England recall “flies in the face of the manager’s vision” following Southgate’s progress with the young Three Lions squad.
Writing in the Daily Mail, Sutton said: “I’m tempted to ring up the FA and ask if I can play ten minutes against the United States so I can win my second England cap. This match is now nothing more than an exhibition.
“Bringing Wayne Rooney out of international retirement for one last farewell appearance makes a complete mockery of international football.
“If Rooney wants to raise money for his foundation then he would be better served booking Wembley, inviting an all-star XI and holding a charity match.”
Meanwhile, the BBC’s chief football writer Phil McNulty asks: does Rooney’s recall cheapen an England call-up?.
“Rooney was arguably allowed to slip away from England without the fanfare he merited, but it is a major shift in policy and emphasis to allow a player whose international day was done years ago to say his goodbyes decorated in the Three Lions jersey,” he said.
“No matter how ceremonial, does what effectively amounts to a testimonial appearance for Rooney in what is meant to be the new modern era after England’s unlikely achievement of reaching the World Cup semi-final seriously chime with this fresh, new-blood approach?”
A special moment
On the flip side of the debate, former England striker Jermain Defoe believes that Rooney’s call-up could inspire the young strikers in the Three Lions squad.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Defoe said: “What a guy and what a player. What he has done throughout his career, for club and country, he has been a special player since day one when he burst onto the scene at Everton.
“I think it will be a really special moment. I would like to go to see it because away from the football side, he is such a nice guy.
“I spent a lot of time with him with England, getting to know him, and he’s a lovely man. He deserves everything he gets.
“Knowing Wayne, he’ll go back into that squad a little bit nervous. He will want to impress people in training, that’s what he is like, he loves his football.
“The boys will love to see him and if I was one of those young forwards, I would be thinking ‘if I can achieve even half [of what Rooney has achieved], then it’s special’.”