Tuesday 21 January 2020

Wayne Rooney will retire from England duty after 2018 World Cup

Wayne Rooney to retire from international football. Nick Potts/PA Wire
Wayne Rooney to retire from international football. Nick Potts/PA Wire

Mark Mann-Bryans

Wayne Rooney has announced he intends to draw his international career to a close following the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

New England boss Sam Allardyce confirmed on Monday that Rooney will continue as captain of the national side after he was initially given the armband by predecessor Roy Hodgson.

Having already become England's all-time leading goalscorer, Rooney is set to pick up his 116th cap in Sunday's World Cup qualifier in Slovakia to move clear as the most-capped outfield player for his country.

But the Manchester United man has declared he knows when he wants to bring down the curtain on his England career, which began with a debut against Australia at Upton Park in 2003.

Speaking for the first time since his captaincy under Allardyce was announced, the 30-year-old said he hopes to lead England to the World Cup and then call it a day, having already turned out for his country at six finals.

"Realistically I know Russia will be my last opportunity to do anything with England so I am going to try and enjoy these two years and then hopefully I can end my time with England on a high," he said.

"I have had a fantastic international career, played a lot of games and I've enjoyed every minute but at some point it has got to come to an end. I'm not old - I'm 30 years of age - and come Russia, I feel that would be the right time for me to say goodbye to international football.

"My mind is made up - obviously that is down to Sam Allardyce again in terms of over the next two years - but that will be my last tournament if selected. I've enjoyed some highs and some lows but I am an immensely proud man."

Rooney, who faced calls to step down as captain following a poor Euro 2016 for England which saw them knocked out by Iceland at the round of 16 stage - with Hodgson losing his job as a result - said he was always going to remain available to the new regime.

"I said I'm available for selection," he said.

"It wasn't me saying I'm going to continue because that is what I want to do, I said if selected, I'm available.

"I made my mind up before the Euros, whether we did well or didn't do well, that I would continue after the tournament.

"I think it is still two years away but I started playing football professionally when I was 16, international football when I was 17 so 15 years of international football is a lot of years and in my eyes I think that would be the right time to finish.

"Obviously I have seen players who have retired from international football for the sake of two or three days off in the week. Is it really going to make that much difference?

"I'm not too sure. After the World Cup in Russia, looking at the next tournament I'll be 34 and so it is the right time for me to stop playing."

Currently level with David Beckham on 115 caps, Rooney is likely to surpass the former captain when Allardyce takes charge of his first match in Trnava on Sunday.

"Of course it will be a proud moment," Rooney said of becoming the most-capped outfield player, taking him nine behind Peter Shilton's overall record.

"Every time I have played for England I keep saying I'm proud to do so, it is a huge honour for me so to do it more than any outfield player will be great - but it isn't about playing, it is about trying to win and that is what I have been trying to do.

"It is just a matter of us doing well in the tournament, we have lost one qualifying game in 14 or 15, we are not far away, we are a small margin away."

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