Wayne Rooney honoured ahead of 100th England cap
Rooney will become just the ninth England player to reach 100 caps on Saturday when he leads his team out for their Euro 2016 qualifier against Slovenia at Wembley.
Of the eight names currently on the list, only Sir Bobby Charlton and Bobby Moore have achieved what Rooney has failed to do in his 11-year international career – lifting a trophy.
Rooney may have five Premier League winner’s medals to his name, but he is yet to win anything with England despite appearing in five major tournaments. So, while he will be bursting with pride when he receives his 100th cap, there will be a slight sense of disappointment and unfulfillment in the back of his mind when he reflects on his England career to date.
“To get 100 caps for England, there’s not many players who have done it, would be a great achievement. I’ll be proud to join that club and it is something that myself and my family would be honoured by,” the England captain said.
“But I could sit here saying I’ve got 200 caps and 100 goals for my country, but the ultimate is to win a trophy and that’s what we all want to do. That’s why we play football, to win. That’s the target and hopefully sometime soon we can achieve that.”
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Rooney is closing in on another series of landmarks.
The Manchester United striker has his sights set on Peter Shilton’s record of 125 caps and he is six goals short of Charlton’s all-time scoring record.
To top the record of Charlton, who will present Rooney with a special golden cap before kick-off on Saturday, would be another proud moment for the striker.But Rooney would still not feel comfortable being compared with the Manchester United and England hero unless he matched Charlton’s achievements in the international arena.
“To be England’s greatest-ever goals scorer would be massive,” Rooney added. “The record has stood for so many years, there have been plenty of players who haven’t been able to break it.
“I’m still relatively young and believe I can do it and, hopefully, that record will come.
“Obviously I’m not going to be as big a legend as Sir Bobby Charlton – he’s won the World Cup with England – so to eclipse that I’d have to win the World Cup, which would be a massive achievement.”
Given his age, Rooney knows it would take a leap of faith from whoever is in charge of the team in 2018 to select him for the next World Cup in Russia.
But, given the paucity of forwards in England, and the fact that the Three Lions are almost certain to qualify, there is little doubt about Rooney taking part in Euro 2016 though.
Eleven years on from his substitute appearance in the 3-1 defeat to Australia at Upton Park, Rooney insists he is still as passionate as ever about playing for his country. If anything, his desire has increased because of England’s poor performance in Brazil earlier this year.
“The thing I’ve taken away from Brazil is the hurt at getting knocked out – it was hard to take,” he said. “But we have to move on. I have that hunger to do well, I always want to do well. I don’t feel I have to prove myself to anyone. I’m sure everyone can see I’m passionate about playing for England and, as much as anyone, I want us to do well.”
Rooney has played for four England managers and ten captains. But one player stands out among them all – Steven Gerrard.
“It’s well-known that the two of us have been close and he’s been a massive help to me,” Rooney said of the 114-cap midfielder who retired from international football after the World Cup. “Even when he was captain I believed that, after he was captain I’d get the nod to take over from him, so I watched how he prepared himself, how he prepared for games, how he was around the hotel and in the media. I took a lot from him.”
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