Wayne Rooney Q&A: All you need to know as Three Lions legend makes stunning return for USA friendly… and the pros and cons of the decision
- Rooney is set to make a stunning return to the England side in USA friendly
- DC United striker, 33, will win 120th cap two years after his last appearance
- Rooney announced international retirement in 2017 after being left out of squad
- But he will be granted one final Wembley outing in fund-raising game
- Money will be raised for the Wayne Rooney Foundation on the evening
Wayne Rooney is set to make a sensational return for England when they take on the United States in a Wembley friendly later this month.
England’s all-time leading goalscorer, 33, will be included in Gareth Southgate’s squad for what is a charity fund-raising friendly on November 15.
But what is going to happen and is it actually a good idea? We answer all your questions.
Wayne Rooney is set to play one final game for England at Wembley later this month
Rooney will train with Gareth Southgate’s squad but will not start the friendly with the USA
So, what’s the plan here?
The plan is for Rooney to make a one-off return for England when they play the United States in a friendly match at Wembley on November 15.
The 33-year-old DC United forward will this week be called up into Gareth Southgate’s squad for the match and will earn his 120th cap by coming on during the game, likely for the final 10 minutes.
Rooney will train with the squad during the week but will not start the USA match and will not wear the captain’s armband.
The match has been designated as a fund-raising friendly by the Football Association and that’s another reason why Rooney will be involved. He won’t be considered for the Croatia game three days later.
The DC United striker will turn out for his country against the USA in a fund-raising friendly
Who stands to benefit?
The Wayne Rooney Foundation, the former Everton and Manchester United star’s personal charity, is one of the organisations that will benefit from the game.
The famous Wembley arch will be illuminated in the gold colours of the Rooney Foundation for the Thursday night friendly.
The Foundation has raised millions since its creation in 2016 to support disadvantaged and vulnerable children and young people.
It works with charities such as the NSPCC, Alder Hey Children’s Charity and Claire House Children’s Hospice.
This England match could raise more than £500,000 for the Foundation.
An FA source told The Sun: ‘It will give England fans the chance to say a fond farewell to a much-loved player while raising money for worthwhile causes.’
Gareth Southgate is set to name Rooney in his squad but won’t give him the captain’s armband
WAYNE ROONEY’S ENGLAND CAREER
Major tournaments appearances: Six
Accolades: England’s all-time top goalscorer
When did Rooney last pull on an England shirt?
It’s been two years now since Rooney made his 119th – and we presumed last – England appearance in a 3-0 World Cup qualifying win over Scotland at Wembley.
Rooney, then in his final season with United before returning to Everton, set up England’s third goal for Gary Cahill.
But then he wasn’t selected by Southgate for the matches against Germany and Lithuania in March 2017.
Part of the reason was a breach of discipline that made front page headlines when Rooney was pictured appearing to be drunk at a wedding hosted by the team hotel after the match.
Rooney announced his retirement from the international game with immediate effect on August 23, 2017 despite good form for Everton leading to suggestions Southgate would recall him.
The forward finished up with 119 caps — making him England’s most-capped outfield player — and 53 goals – a national team record.
Rooney applauds the England fans at Wembley following his last cap against Scotland in 2016
Would he get into the England squad on form?
Potentially. Rooney has performed impressively for Major League Soccer side DC United since moving out to the States in July.
His 12 goals and six assists in 21 matches lifted the Washington-based club from bottom place in the MLS Eastern Conference to an unlikely play-off spot.
But their season came to an end when defeated on penalties by Columbus Crew last Friday, with Rooney missing his spot-kick in the shoot-out following a 2-2 draw after extra time.
While Rooney has performed well, it has to be remembered that the MLS is a considerably lesser standard to the Premier League, from which most of the England squad is drawn.
Rooney receives Golden Boot from Sir Bobby Charlton after becoming England’s record scorer
Is there a precedent for this?
Yes, this has happened before in international football.
Brazilian legend Ronaldo was given a farewell friendly against Romania in 2011, some five years after his previous cap. He played for 15 minutes, coming on in the 30th minute before being taken off at half-time, when he addressed the crowd.
German forward Lukas Podolski, who announced his international retirement after Euro 2016, was recognised with a match against England the following March. He scored the only goal of the contest.
And Australia’s record goalscorer Tim Cahill will win his 108th cap in a special farewell friendly against Lebanon this month.
Germany striker Lukas Podolski was granted a farewell friendly against England in 2017
FOR AND AGAINST
The arguments for Rooney’s return
This is the perfect opportunity for England fans to bid a fond farewell to a genuine Three Lions legend – while also raising lots of money for good causes.
It is only a friendly, after all, so what’s the harm in granting Rooney a few minutes off the bench and one final England cap?
Many England fans feel they didn’t have the chance to show their appreciation for Rooney — who is the team’s all-time record scorer, after all — when he was axed from the squad by Southgate last year.
There was a talk of a tribute to Rooney but the sudden nature of his retirement from England meant he never received it and that was a real shame.
It’s also a superb opportunity to raise thousands for the Foundation that bears Rooney’s name, helping various children’s charities.
Rooney speaks to Gareth Southgate during his last international appearance against Scotland
The arguments against Rooney’s return
Allowing Rooney even 10 minutes at the end of the United States friendly threatens to cheapen what should be a serious international match.
Southgate’s side should be preparing for their all-important UEFA Nations League clash with their World Cup conquerors Croatia three days later, not playing a glorified testimonial.
With their stunning 3-2 win in Spain last month, England have, against all expectations, given themselves a shot at reaching the Nations League finals next year.
Southgate would be better served bringing on some young players late in the game to ensure he knows his best team to beat Croatia, rather than someone whose last cap came two years ago.
After all, it was only back in August that Southgate insisted there would be no more ‘easy’ England caps.
Referring to young players such as Jadon Sancho and Phil Foden, Southgate said: ‘It’s been too easy to get into the England squad for some of the youngsters over the last 12, 24 and 36 months.
‘They’ve gone in and done brilliantly, but what you want is real competition that make it really hard to get in.’
So it could be argued there are double standards at play here.
The manager has worked relentlessly on re-modelling and revamping his England team, driving down the average age and introducing an attractive brand of football – there has been considerable success as a result.
This sentimental nod to the England team’s past is very unlike Southgate and he shouldn’t indulge it.
England celebrate during their 3-2 UEFA Nations League victory over Spain last month
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