Wayne Rooney’s 120th and final England cap in a 3-0 win over the United States at Wembley on Thursday evening was an occasion of mixed emotions.
The FA’s sentimental decision to call him up one last time was at first met with criticism, but when he appeared before kick-off with his four children through a guard of honour, few could suggest it wasn’t a worthwhile exercise.
FA Chairman Greg Clarke and Harry Kane presented Rooney with an award to mark his unmatched 53-goal contribution for the Three Lions - an achievement the veteran striker thinks will eventually be bettered by his Tottenham counterpart.
"I look forward to presenting him with the trophy," the 33-year-old said, per BBC Sport.
"I asked Harry to present me with the award because I believe he will beat my goalscoring record.
"It was great to be out there in front of the fans again and it was special for me and my family.”
While Rooney didn’t seal his swansong with a goal, his half-hour cameo in the second half was a fitting way to bring down the curtain on his international career.
Since leaving Everton last June, the 33-year-old has been playing for DC United in the MLS where he has found the net 12 times in 21 outings.
But despite showing glimpses of his undeniable class for the Washington outfit, the reality is that age has caught up with the former Manchester United star.
What’s more, Rooney could see the writing on the wall even before he chose to part with the Red Devils after 13 years.
He told Sky Sports, per Goal: ”There are times when you doubt yourself as a player, you think: 'Am I good enough?'
"The time Jose Mourinho left me out of the Manchester United team. There are moments when you do doubt yourself, I believe I was good enough to get back in the team, but I never really got that opportunity.
"I came on for one minute in the Europa League final, I was about to come on against Southampton in the League Cup final, and in those moments it was embarrassing.
"It was getting to a point where I was embarrassed, I thought: 'I can't keep doing this,' as hard as it was to leave Man United.
"In the Southampton game, Mourinho came to me and said: 'I want you to lift the trophy.’
"I was like: 'Well, I didn't even play in the game.'
"He was persistent with it, and I literally lifted it and moved it on! I just knew... what was I doing? I need to move on and go somewhere else.”
Rooney had already cemented his legendary status by this point, though it’s interesting to learn more about his mindset as he was gradually supplanted at Old Trafford.
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