Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Giggs backs Rooney playing England friendly as chance to recognise ‘icon’

Rooney's England return is 'completely wrong', blasts Shilton Wayne Rooney farewell ticket sales will not go to player's foundation
| 09 November, 2018, 02:53

Rooney's return has provoked a fierce debate on social media, with some describing it as a fitting send-off for England's record goalscorer and others saying it cheapens the winning of caps and makes a mockery of global football.

England players should "respect" Wayne Rooney on his global return because they need to know "the history of the shirt", says manager Gareth Southgate.

"Those discussions started 12 months ago".

"He deserves it. He was a great captain for us. I think all the players respect Wayne's contribution and that he deserves the best possible send-off". "So if he plays, of course he'll be the captain". I am still able to look to the future in terms of the squad I've picked and the things I want to see but also I've talked a lot to the players about the importance of the shirt, the history and honouring former players.

The 33-year-old, who now plays for DC United in Major League Soccer, has not represented the Three Lions in nearly two years.

"I was quite happy for the tribute to be before the World Cup but Wayne did not want to detract from the team at that time, so now we have the opportunity to pay that tribute".


Southgate said he last spoke to Rooney in April, when the DC United striker visited St George's Park as an honorary ambassador for the UEFA Under-17 European Championship, but the two men did not discuss the tribute.

"We were all struck by the fact that it was a good way to recognise someone who's had a fantastic career for his country, " Southgate said. "We'll see in a few years how close I am".

As Rooney bids farewell to England, Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson has been called up for the first time after scoring six goals this season in the English Premier League.

Maguire's Leicester team-mate James Maddison is also absent after injuring his knee, while midfielders Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard return after missing the last round of internationals.

A draw with Croatia followed by a victory over Spain leaves England waiting on the result of the meeting between their League A Group Four rivals before Southgate knows what is at stake in his final Nations League game.

Southgate said that Rooney's final appearance has been in the works for over a year, and was originally meant to take place in the build-up to this year's World Cup.

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