LONDON: Wayne Rooney has formally and publicly given up hope that his decision to stay in the Premier League would be rewarded with a recall to duty by England for whom he is 53-goal record marksman writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The 31-year-old had played 119 times for country, 23 as captain, since being dropped by manager Gareth Southgate in June from the squad for the 2-2 World Cup draw against Scotland and 3-2 friendly defeat by France.
Simply, Rooney paid the penalty for the lack of regular football to which he had been doomed to the substitutes’ bench by the managerial arrival of Jose Mourinho at Manchester United a year ago.
More painfully, he also bore the prime association with England as the symbol of missed opportunities and successive disappointments World Cups and European Championships. This progression had reached its nadir in the second round disaster against Iceland at Euro 2016 in France.
Rooney had summer possibilities on the table of a move to the United States or China but that would have represented a definitive goodbye to his ambition of saying goodbye to England at the World Cup finals in Russia next year. Hence the happy preference to return to Everton, where it all began.
So far, so good. Rooney scored the lone, winning goal on his ‘new’ Everton debut against Stoke and then again in Monday’s 1-1 draw against Manchester City. The latter was his 200th goal in the Premier League, a target attained previously by only Alan Shearer.
Rooney has worked hard on his fitness during the summer, taking a personal trainer on his family holiday in Ibiza. On Monday he further than any other player on the pitch.
Southgate was present, considering selection options for the World Cup qualifier in Malta next Friday and home to Slovakia three days later. It appears Southgate may also have been there to prepare Rooney for the news, in person, that he could not command a place in the England starting line-up.
To be merely one more occasional squad member was not what Rooney would have wanted. He had enough of that at Old Trafford. Hence his announcement that he will concentrate now only on Everton.
Rooney, who made his England debut in February 2003, in a 3-1 defeat by Australia at West Ham, said: “It was great 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. Playing for England has always been special to 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.”
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