Wayne Rooney has warned England’s youngsters not to make the same mistake as him and book a long-haul break ahead of Euro 2016 in France next summer.
Rooney, the England captain, equalled Sir Bobby Charlton’s 45‑year-old goalscoring record as qualification was clinched for the European Championship finals with a 6‑0 victory over San Marino.
Attention now turns to how England, with a 100 per cent record in Group E, can take their best form from qualifying into a major finals.
Rooney has played in five such showpieces for England but never made it past the quarter-final stage. His biggest regret is ruining his preparation for Euro 2012 by going on holiday to Las Vegas shortly before the tournament started.
With nearly four weeks between the end of the domestic season and the start of Euro 2016 on June 10, the England players have been told to stick to short-haul breaks.
“The senior lads will sit down with the manager and staff organising the tournament to work out what we can do better,” Rooney said. “I know, personally, when I was suspended before the Euros I went away on holiday, which, looking back, I regret.
“I’ll certainly get my part right this time and, as a team, we are all building to being successful. It’s something I’ve learnt. At the time, I thought it was no problem [to go to Las Vegas] and now I know I shouldn’t have done it. It’s flights and jet-lag. I was there with my family, but flying so far, it takes a while to get over the jet-lag.
Asked whether he would give this advice to England’s young players, Rooney said: “Yeah, we’ve already discussed that. I don’t think we’ll have that long off before the tournament so the lads won’t have the option to go too far.”
Ahead of the World Cup finals last year, Rooney took two fitness coaches with him on holiday to Portugal. The Manchester United forward turns 30 next month, but he has rejected suggestions that the Euro 2016 finals could be his last chance of success with England.
“I still feel fine, I think I can go to the Russia World Cup and then see how I feel but that [my last tournament] is not something I’m thinking about,” he said. “The San Marino game was my 106th and as much as I love playing and scoring for England, there would be nothing better than being successful with England and that’s all any player wants.
“It’s the ultimate goal and if I don’t I’ll be disappointed. Hopefully the young players in the future can, but that’s what I want to do.”
With England qualifying with three games to spare for the 2016 finals, Rooney said he believed that the high-profile friendlies against France and Germany, with Spain and Holland also in the diary, would be key to their preparations.
“It starts now,” he said. “It’s good we have tough friendlies coming up. It will be a chance for us to show ourselves against good teams.
“I believe we have a very good squad of players. We have got to go and prove that – especially for some of the lads who haven’t been to tournaments, to go and play against better teams and better players and get that confidence of doing it. We know we can’t go into a tournament like we did last year and go out the way we did. If we are going to be successful, we need to find the way we are going to do that and it’s something we’re working on.”
Rooney scored his 49th England goal on Saturday from the penalty spot in San Marino, but he has revealed that he was worried he would miss.
“I’m more relieved, to be honest. I was quite nervous before I took the penalty, just about the pitch more than anything. I was worried I might slip so I straightened my run up and didn’t plant my foot as hard. It probably wasn’t the greatest penalty, but thankfully it went in and it’s a huge honour.”
Rooney will attempt to claim the outright record against Switzerland at Wembley tomorrow. “It would have been nice to do it in San Marino, but to do it at Wembley would be a lot more special.”