All good things must come to an end, and such was the case today with Wayne Rooney announcing his immediate retirement from international football. The player, who burst onto the scene as a young lad with goals in his locker, has left the scene by becoming one of the greatest to ever wear the England jersey.
Rooney retires as the captain of the side, and as he has always been, he does so by being far away from any spotlight whatsoever. He wore the England uniform for the first time in 2003 as a teenager, and after serving his nation for 14 years, he has decided to hang the jersey once and for all.
As Wayne steps down from the international scene, here is a look into 10 of his finest moments as an England international:
1. The Beginning
Not long after his debut for the country, a Wayne Rooney in his teenage bagged his first goal in 2003. Aged 17 years and 317 days, he became the youngest ever goalscorer in the history of the nation’s sport. A stat that came to life a decade ago, is something that is proudly associated with his name till date.
2. First World Cup Goal
What comes across as an act that might startle many, Rooney actually took three World Cups to net his first goal on the biggest stage of the sport. It was 2014 and the opponents were Uruguay, when the then Manchester United attacker scored his first World Cup goal as a late equaliser for his side. Given it’s arrival might have been a little later than expected, it was a moment that certainly helped him breathe easy and get that burden off his chest.
3. The Acrobatic Celebration
Rooney scored twice in a 3-1 win over Scotland in 2015, and it was a day that is still remembered for what followed after goal number 2. The player rolled back the years and surprised one and all by pulling off a moment nobody expected to see. He showed how young and fit he still was at that time by cartwheeling as a celebration, and showing how that day was his and his alone. When asked about what made him pull out the acrobatic young self, he said his kid did it all day long and wanted to see his father do it too. Not just a great footballer, a super dad too.
4. Highest Capped Outfielder
It was on the 4th of September, 2016, that the striker broke yet another record in his fine England career. He was named in the squad to face Slovakia, and as a result of that, he earned his 116th cap for the Three Lions. Every time the player has stepped out on the field wearing the jersey, he’s done it with all his heart, and every cap earned has been rightfully deserved.
5. Thunderous Volley Against Russia
As England were finding qualification in the Euro 2008 tournament hard to secure, Wayne Rooney took it upon himself to bring in a dash of hope. In their match against Russia, the striker scored a beautiful volley that was hit with enough intent and brute force to almost tear the net apart. However, the team still failed to win that game, and could not secure an entry into the championships later that year. Despite the failure of the team as a whole, this particular effort from Wayne stood out as a moment fans still look back at and applaud for sheer effort and skill.
6. Terrorising Croatia in 2004
England needed a win to progress through to the group stages of the Euro 2004 tournament, and things were getting a little desperate. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, and that was when an irrepressible Wayne Rooney decided to step in and make a name for himself. The young lad fired in two goals and helped his side win 4-2, a result that ensured that his side would spend some more time in the finals.
7. Euro 2012 comeback
A red card for Wayne Rooney in the qualifying stages of the 2012 Euro cup led to him missing the first two matches of the tournament. However, he was still made a part of the squad, and his return proved just how important that decision turned out to be. The striker made a comeback against Ukraine, and scored the winner that ensured his side went through to the quarter-final stages.
8. Showing Iceland who’s boss
Although Iceland is a name England fans might hate to hear at the moment, things were different long ago. Back in 2004, England thrashed Iceland 6-1 in a pre-Euro encounter, with Wayne Rooney bagging a brace. One of these strikes was a memorable 25-yard screamer that found the corner of the net and served as an early indication of the great things to come ahead.
9. The Maracana Goal
When England visited Brazil in 2013, expectations of them getting a result out of the match were close to zero. However, when Rooney found the back of the net with a beautifully curled shot, the match found unexpected excitement. Despite the final result being 2-2, it was their forward’s goal that gave them the confidence to believe that a win at the famous arena was possible.
10. Goal Number 50
Probably the greatest moment in Wayne Rooney’s England career was netting his 50th goal in a 2-0 win against Switzerland. That strike resulted in him overtaking Sir Bobby Charlton’s tally of 49 goals for the country and being the proud record holder of the nation’s all-time highest goal-getter ever. This is a feat only the best can achieve, and it is fair to say it will be his for a long time to come.
The player has surely been underrated as an England international, but there is no denying the fact that replacing him will be one of the hardest things to do for any future England manager and team selector. A player’s player and a professional who wore his heart on his sleeve, Wayne Rooney has bid goodbye from the international stage, but not before becoming Mr.England himself.
Written by Vikram Gupta
An attacker with his words, and defends each of them with pride. A love for the game which goes hand in hand with his will to forever write. A graduate in the course of advertising and a hopeful to be author. Herrera for the win.