Rooney deserves best possible send off – Southgate

England players should “respect” Wayne Rooney on his international return because they need to know “the history of the shirt”, says manager Gareth Southgate.

Rooney, 33, will earn his 120th and final England cap in the friendly against USA on 15 November.

The game, now called ‘The Wayne Rooney Foundation International’, will honour the striker and his charity.

“I think the team totally respect what he did,” Southgate said.

“I think it is important they respect what the players did in the past.”

England’s all-time record goalscorer Rooney will come on as a second-half substitute at Wembley but will not captain the side or wear the number 10 shirt.

Rooney, who now plays in the United States for DC United, has scored 53 goals in 119 international appearances and last played for England against Scotland in November 2016.

“We talk to them a lot about that they have the shirt now but it is not their shirt, great players have worn it before them and great players will wear it after them,” Southgate added.

“That lineage and heritage of the shirt and the team is important to me because I think whether you join a club or (play for) your country you need to know the history of that shirt and the importance of it – then you are not playing for the name on the back but for the crest on the front.”

Rooney’s one-off return to the international fold has not been without its critics. England’s record appearance-maker Peter Shilton said caps should not be “given out like gifts”, while former Blackburn and Celtic striker Chris Sutton said his inclusion “devalued the international cap”.

Southgate says the criticism of the Football Association’s decision to honour Rooney has been a “disappointment”.

“It’s a shame because you want it to be a fitting tribute to an outstanding player who I think has often been undervalued in terms of how well he played for England,” he added.

“Hopefully, by the time we get to the game, and him being with us next week, the focus will be on ‘actually, let’s think about what he did and how well he played, and there’s an opportunity here to thank him for that’.

“Any opportunity for us to honour a player we will hugely respect.”

Southgate added that he was yet to decide when in the second half Rooney will come on but insisted it would be before fans start “heading for the tube”.

“I don’t want to give an exact minute because if I don’t get it right, there will be a bookmaker running a book on it,” he said.

“I think it should be appropriate that people are not heading for the tubes before he comes on and also we have got out of the game what we wanted and not taking someone off too early.

“There are young players we want to see from the start – that has to be the start point. And then we are able to acknowledge Wayne’s contribution after that.”

Read More

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here