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On this day in 2017: Wayne Rooney retires from England duty

England v Scotland – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Group F – Wembley Stadium
(Image credit: Mike Egerton)

Wayne Rooney, England’s record goalscorer, announced his retirement from international football with immediate effect on this day in 2017.

Aged 31 at the time, the forward was calling time on his Three Lions career having scored 53 goals in 119 appearances for his country.

Rooney, who had netted in each of Everton’s first two Premier League games of 2017-18 after rejoining his boyhood club from Manchester United, informed Gareth Southgate of his decision when the England boss called him that week to say he wanted to include him in his squad.

Rooney had rejoined boyhood club Everton from Manchester United in the summer of 2017 (Nigel French/PA).

Rooney had rejoined boyhood club Everton from Manchester United in the summer of 2017 (Nigel French/PA).

In a statement released to the PA news agency, Rooney said: “It was great that Gareth Southgate called me this week to tell me he wanted me back in the England squad for the upcoming matches. I really appreciated that.

“However, having already thought long and hard, I told Gareth that I had now decided to retire for good from international football.

“It is a really tough decision and one I have discussed with my family, my manager at Everton (Ronald Koeman) and those closest to me.

“Playing for England has always been special to me. Every time I was selected as a player or captain was a real privilege and I thank everyone who helped me. But I believe now is the time to bow out.”

Rooney said he wanted to focus all his energy on helping Everton be successful, adding that he would “always remain a passionate England fan.” He also said that one of his “very few regrets is not to have been part of a successful England tournament side.”

Rooney, who made his England debut aged 17 in 2003, went on to play at three World Cups and two European Championships, with quarter-finals being the furthest the side progressed.

He succeeded Steven Gerrard as England captain in 2014, Sir Bobby Charlton as the team’s all-time top scorer in 2015, and David Beckham as most capped outfield player when they faced Slovakia away a year later.

Ahead of that game he had said the 2018 World Cup in Russia would be “my last tournament”, but he subsequently lost his place in the squad under Southgate.

Rooney (right) made his 120th England appearance as a substitute against the United States in November 2018 (Nick Potts/PA).

Rooney (right) made his 120th England appearance as a substitute against the United States in November 2018 (Nick Potts/PA).

Following his announcement of August 2017, it appeared a 3-0 win over Scotland at Wembley the previous November would prove his final England appearance.

Rooney, by then a DC United player, then won his 120th cap on an evening celebrating his England career at the national stadium in November 2018, coming on as a substitute as Southgate’s men beat the United States 1-0.