Wayne Rooney has defended his decision to make a farewell appearance for England and hopes it becomes a tradition for players to be honoured.
The D.C. United forward will win his 120th England cap on Thursday after Gareth Southgate sanctioned an appearance in the friendly with the United States at Wembley, two years after announcing his international retirement.
“Everyone is entitled their opinions but the most important thing is speaking with FA we both felt it was right,” Rooney told a news conference.
“The players I’ve spoke to agree and as a country, we haven’t done anything like this before. I hope in 10 or 15 years we are sat here for someone like Harry Kane who can go on to get the goal-scoring record. But I’m not asking people to agree with it.”
Rooney, 33, is England’s all-time leading scorer with 53 goals but has not represented his country since lining up against Scotland at Wembley in November 2016 and the decision to recall him has split opinion.
He insisted Southgate will have the final say on how much he will feature in the game and has made no demands about wearing the No. 10 shirt, or asking for the captain’s armband.
“I’m not making any demands, my message to Gareth was ‘you get what you need out of me and when you feel it’s right to bring me on that’s fine for me,'” he said. “It’d be nice [to score], but the main thing is to run out at Wembley one last time and have the opportunity to thank the fans for the years they’ve supported me.”
Rooney said the appearance will definitely be his last for England and will probably his final senior match in the country with a return to the Premier League unlikely.
“It will be my last game,” he said. “My form has been good in the States and if I got called up because of that then it would be a different situation, but this will be my last game.
“I made the decision to go the States and when I make a decision I tend to stick with it. It’s important to give my full commitment to D.C. I’ve seen talked about a loan move but I’m not prepared to do it. I’ve found my feet in States and the children are settled.”
Rooney also revealed that he spoke to England manager Southgate about playing in a farewell match before the World Cup but they decided it wasn’t the right time with the potential to disrupt preparations.
The striker also paid tribute the Three Lions boss, saying he was one of the most courageous coaches during his 13-year England career with his decision to bring through young forwards rewarded with fourth place at last summer’s World Cup finals.
“We have had the idea for 12 months,” he said about his farewell appearance. “We were going to do a game before the World Cup but it was not the right timing.
“The players were preparing for the biggest tournament in football. Personally I didn’t think it was right to get in the way of that. We both felt it was right now though.”
On Southgate, he added: “He’s fearless. A lot of the other managers didn’t give the youth an opportunity to express themselves and have an impact. To be fair to Gareth, he’s done that.
“He’s not only given them experience but belief they can do well and be successful for their country. Out of the England managers I’ve had he’s probably the only one who’s really brought so many through as a group and he deserves a lot of credit for that.”