BURTON-ON-TRENT: Wayne Rooney announced on Tuesday that the campaign for the 2018 World Cup in Russia will be his last as an England player.
“Realistically I know myself that Russia will be my last opportunity to do anything with England,” Rooney told a press conference at St George’s Park in Burton, central England.
“So I’m going to try and enjoy these two years and hopefully I can end my career with England on a high.”
New England manager Sam Allardyce confirmed on Monday that Rooney, 30, will be kept on as captain for the World Cup qualifying campaign, which begins in Slovakia on Sunday.
The Manchester United striker will make his 116th England appearance in Trnava, taking him past David Beckham as the country’s most-capped outfield player.
Captain since August 2014, Rooney is also England’s record goal-scorer with 53 goals. But in six major tournament appearances with England, he has never gone further than the quarter-finals.
England crashed out in the group phase at the last World Cup in Brazil two years ago and, with Rooney as captain, were humiliated by minnows Iceland in the last at Euro 2016.
“I have had a fantastic international career so far, played a lot of games and enjoyed every minute, but at some point it is going to come to an end,” Rooney said.
“I’m not old, I’m 30 years of age, and come Russia I feel that will be the time for me to say goodbye to international football.
“My mind is made up. It is up to Sam Allardyce again over the next two years, but if selected, I will have enjoyed it. Some highs, some lows, but I’ll be an immensely proud man.”
Midfielder or attacker
Rooney’s most impressive performance for England at a major tournament remains Euro 2004 in Portugal, when, aged only 18, he scored four goals as Sven Goran Eriksson’s side reached the last eight.
England failed to qualify for Euro 2008 and he did not manage to find the net as they met with disappointment at the World Cups of 2006 and 2010.
Rooney ended an eight-year wait for a major tournament goal at Euro 2012, but England fell in the quarter-finals.
Although Rooney was deployed in midfield by former manager Roy Hodgson during Euro 2016, Allardyce has indicated he intends to use him in a number 10 role.
Rooney has been playing in that position under new United manager Jose Mourinho since the start of the season, but the former Everton player said he was happy to play anywhere.
“It’s the manager’s decision,” Rooney said. “We haven’t spoken about that. In the next few days we’ll speak about it more, whether it’s as a midfielder or attacker.
“It’s only a day we’ve been together, but you can see he’s a relaxed guy, and since we’ve been here the camp has been good. It’s just a matter of getting on the training pitch.
“I’m looking forward to getting back on the pitch. We have bad memories from the last game (against Iceland), obviously. We have to put it behind us.
“It was disappointing the way we went out of the tournament. You can’t forget it, but it’s a new era for us, a new manager.” –AFP