So, that’s it, then. Wayne Rooney has officially retired from international football, bringing an end to his 14-year spell as an England player.
The 31-year-old has decided to call time on his international career in order to focus solely on Everton, who re-signed the Croxteth-born forward back from Manchester United this summer.
In a statement, Rooney revealed that Gareth Southgate wanted him to call him up for England’s forthcoming fixtures against Malta and Slovakia. “However, having already thought long and hard, I told Gareth that I had now decided to retire for good from international football,” the Three Lions’ all-time leading goalscorer added.
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“I will always remain a passionate England fan,” the statement continued. “One of my very few regrets is not to have been part of a successful England tournament side. Hopefully the exciting players Gareth is bringing through can take that ambition further and I hope everyone will get behind the team.
“One day the dream will come true and I look forward to being there as a fan - or in any capacity.”
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Rooney was incredible at Euro 2004
Rooney was touted as England’s most promising player since Paul Gascoigne when he burst onto the international scene in 2003.
And a year after making his England debut, he played his first match in a major tournament against France at the 2004 European Championships.
Rooney, aged only 18 at the time, produced a truly magnificent performance for a player so young.
The teenager, who became the second youngest player to play in a European Championships finals match, looked completely at home at the Estadio Da Luz.
France boasted a formidable team at the time - including superstars Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry and the great Zinedine Zidane - but the fearless Rooney didn’t care a jot for reputations at that time.
For the 76 minutes he was on the pitch, Rooney played as if he was playing out on the streets with his mates back in Liverpool. Sven-Goran Eriksson gave him the freedom to do as he pleased and it almost - almost - paid off.
Although England took the lead through a first-half Frank Lampard header, it was Zidane who won the match for Les Bleus with two goals in the final three minutes of the match.
Watch: Rooney's magnificent highlights v France
Who knows what might have happened had Eriksson left Rooney on for the final 15 minutes.
There’s a brilliant compilation of Rooney’s highlights v France on YouTube and it’s well worth seven minutes of your time…
What a performance.
Rooney: Euro 2004 is my fondest England memory
Rooney admitted in 2014 that playing at Euro 2004 was his fondest England memory.
“My debut at such a young age and the Euro 2004 was the stand out tournament for me because I scored four goals,” he told the Daily Mail, unaware that his Manchester United and England careers would both be over three years later.
Rooney: France was my best moment - I nutmegged Zidane!
He also told The Football Republic last year that the game against France was his favourite moment.
Why? Because he nutmegged Zidane.
Very few players can say they did that.
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