Former Three Lions captain and record goalscorer retires from England side and says he wants to focus on Everton
WAYNE ROONEY has stunned England by announcing his retirement from international football after rejecting an offer to come back from Gareth Southgate.
The former Three Lions captain and the country’s record goalscorer confirmed his decision this afternoon.
After making a blistering start to life back at Everton, Southgate phoned Rooney on Tuesday to tell him he wanted him back in the fold for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovakia.
However, the Manchester United legend informed him of his decision to quit.
Speaking to Press Association Sport, he said: “It was great that Gareth Southgate called me this week to tell me he wanted me back in the England squad for the upcoming matches.
“I really appreciated that. However, having already thought long and hard, I told Gareth that I had now decided to retire for good from international football.”
Rooney, 31, is England’s most capped outfield player having appeared 119 times and he is the nation’s all-time top goalscorer with 53.
And he admits it was a tough decision to call time on international football.
The Everton star added: “It is a really tough decision and one I have discussed with my family, my manager at Everton and those closest to me.
“Playing for England has always been special to me.
“Every time I was selected as a player or captain was a real privilege and I thank everyone who helped me. But I believe now is the time to bow out.
“Leaving Manchester United was a tough call but I know I made the right decision in coming home to Everton. Now I want to focus all my energies on helping them be successful.
“I will always remain a passionate England fan.”
Despite his personal achievements, Rooney has been unable to fire England to any tournament success throughout his 14-year international career.
And he admits that has been the only downside of his time with the Three Lions.
Rooney said: “One of my very few regrets is not to have been part of a successful England tournament side.
“Hopefully the exciting players Gareth is bringing through can take that ambition further and I hope everyone will get behind the team.
“One day the dream will come true and I look forward to being there as a fan – or in any capacity.”
Wayne Rooney – His England career broken down
- England appearances: 119
- Debut: vs Australia 12 Feb 2013, aged 17 years 111 days
- International goals: 53 – England’s record goal haul
- First goal: vs Macedonia 6 September 2003
- Wins: 71, Draws: 29, Losses: 19
- Major tournaments: Six
- World Cup goals: One – vs Uruguay in 2014
- Red cards: Two – Portugal 2006, Montenegro 2012
- Caps as captain: 22 games
- First captaincy: vs Brazil 14 November 2009
- England managers : Six – Eriksson, McClaren, Capello, Hodgson, Allardyce, Southgate
Rooney burst on to the scene with England as a 17-year-old and made his debut against Australia at Upton Park in February 2013.
The first of his record haul of goals arrived in September that year when he bagged against Macedonia.
The following summer he introduced himself to the whole world with an explosive display at Euro 2004, a tournament many feel England would have won if the striker was not forced to pull out through injury.
Unfortunately he has never been able to match those displays at a European Championship or World Cup since – but his status as an England legend is undeniable.
He finally overtook Sir Bobby Charlton as the country’s all-time top scorer when he netted against Switzerland in September 2015.
Rooney replaced David Beckham as the most-capped outfield player 12 months later against Slovakia – ahead of which he announced his plan to retire from England after the 2018 World Cup.
That decision looked to be taken out of Rooney’s hands when England manager Southgate dropped his captain after becoming permanent manager in March.
That followed a late night of drinking at the England team hotel in November.
But Rooney’s return to Everton has led to a massive upturn in form that impressed Southgate.
Yet despite being within touching distance of Peter Shilton’s record 125-cap haul for England, Rooney has decided to walk away with what already is a remarkable record.
His final appearance came when he skippered the Three Lions in a 3-0 World Cup qualifying win over old foes Scotland last November.
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