Wayne Rooney, England's record-breaker who divided opinion

Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney takes his leave of international football with a host of records but no trophies to show for his 14 years of service.

The 31-year-old was once the darling of fans, both on the international scene with England and also in the stands at Manchester United.

But, with his position as a first choice at Old Trafford under serious threat last season and his lack of playing time swaying the thinking of England manager Gareth Southgate, Rooney made a return to boyhood club Everton this summer before now deciding to draw a line under his international career.

The Croxteth-born forward holds the goalscoring record for both Manchester United and his country – 253 and 53 respectively – and right from the very start of his career with Everton his exploits were making headlines.

A 16-year-old Rooney announced himself to the world in October 2002 with a superb late strike to hand the Toffees a 2-1 win over Arsenal.

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And after his move to Old Trafford went through in 2004, the young forward marked his Red Devils debut against Fenerbahce in the Champions League with a brilliant hat-trick.

Rooney’s honours with United are impressive and include five Premier League titles, one FA Cup, three League Cups, the Europa League and the 2007-08 Champions League.

His roll of honour with England is in stark contrast and he leaves the world stage without adding any international trophies to those he has earned with his club.

Given all he has achieved, he has had a considerable amount of criticism to deal with, perhaps because he is part of an England generation widely accepted to have hugely underachieved.

Fifty-three goals in 119 caps is an undeniably excellent international record, but plenty will argue Rooney has simply not delivered when it really counted at major tournament finals.


New England boss Southgate decided against including Rooney for the World Cup qualifier against Scotland in Glasgow in June and for the friendly against France in Paris three days later.

When the former England defender took over following Sam Allardyce’s short-lived reign last September, he made it clear Rooney remained an important part of his plans.

His decision to leave Rooney out aligned him with United boss Jose Mourinho, who made the striker an increasingly peripheral figure at Old Trafford before he lived up to the ‘Once a Blue, always a Blue’ T-shirt slogan he revealed as a teenager by returning to Everton this summer.

Wayne Rooney’s first England start came in April 2003 against Turkey.

Southgate called Rooney to say he wanted to include the forward in his upcoming squad for next month’s World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Lithuania following his fine start with the Toffees.

However, the former Manchester United captain told Southgate of his decision to quit international football for good in the same phone conversation.

What is clear is that as Rooney closes the international door and starts a new season in blue rather than red, he will not survive at Goodison Park on sentimentality alone and will have to deliver to a demanding audience.

The striker can at least concentrate his efforts on boosting his boyhood club, using his vast experience to bring the best out of Ronald Koeman’s young charges.

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