England's Golden Generation had the talent but failed to win a tournament..

Wayne Rooney offers his honest thoughts on the failures of England's Golden Generation

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Wayne Rooney will make his return to the England team on Thursday - although not everyone is happy about that.

England's all-time record goalscorer will start on the bench in the friendly against the USA but will be substituted on for a farewell performance.

Many believe that the gesture only devalues an England cap - Rooney hasn't really earned the privilege of playing for his country this time, it's being given to him.

He'll wear the number 10 shirt and captain the side when he gets on, making the game at Wembley something of a testimonial.

But whatever you think of the move, the reasons for giving Rooney a farewell game are clear to see.

The 33-year-old not only has the most goals for England but also the most caps of any outfield player - the only thing missing from his England career was silverware.

And Rooney's best chance of that was undoubtedly as part of the 2004-2008 era of the National team - England's 'Golden Generation'.

With players like Rooney, Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard, David Beckham, Frank Lampard, John Terry, and Rio Ferdinand making up the core of the side, it is quite remarkable that England never even made a final.

And as part of the press conference for his upcoming appearance, Rooney was asked for his opinion on that generation's failures.

The 2004 England side was loaded with stars as well as Gary Neville.

"We had some great established players," he said. "David Beckham, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry - why didn't it work? I've no idea.

"We tried to be successful. We maybe never had the squad, we had the startling 11 which was very good but going into the tournament we maybe never had that back-up. But I think we had a great team, we were unlucky on a couple of occasions, going out on penalties.

"We gave our best; it wasn't to be. It's a chance now for this new generation of players to take up that mantle."

Rooney's 2006 World Cup ended with a dismissal as England lost to Portugal.

Despite having nothing like the experience or recognition, the current crop did manage to go further in a World Cup than Rooney's era ever did.

But that just highlighted the failures of the previous decade - we'll likely forever wonder just what might have been if that team had clicked.

As Rooney says, it just wasn't to be.

Rio Ferdinand
Steven Gerrard
David Beckham
England Football
Wayne Rooney
John Terry

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