Sky Sports reported that Rooney spoke before the Slovenia match and made it clear that he had no intention of quitting international football. Southgate reaffirmed this by stating that the decision was a tactical one and that Rooney was “still captain of this team while I’m in charge.” The manager went on to praise Rooney’s professionalism when receiving the news that he had been dropped.
It has been a tough start to the season for the England and Manchester United captain. England’s 2016 European Championship ended in disaster after they were knocked out by Iceland in the last 16. After a disappointing start to the season newly appointed Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho relegated Rooney to the bench as he tries to form a winning team. During England’s last match against Malta at Wembley the England fans routinely booed him. When asked about the booing, Rooney told The Guardian, “I wasn’t aware of it on the pitch.” He also said that it is now common in the sport.
Rooney has had a long and illustrious career starting from the age of 16 at Everton. According to the BBC he has played a total of 724 games for Everton, Manchester and England scoring a total of 316 goals, while breaking the England goal scoring record in the process. It is a credit to Rooney that he has stayed at the forefront of the game and has been a major feature in all competitions. In recent years however his performances for England have diminished and many argue that he never rediscovered the form that set the footballing world on fire in the 2004 Euros.
Yet despite the calls for Rooney to be dropped from the England squad the team doesn’t look any better without him. Writing for football tips and analysis site Betfair, renowned journalist and podcaster Luke Moore stated that against Malta, “the Three Lions showed a typical lack of coherence and the national side isn’t popular with fans.” After England’s uninspiring goalless draw against Slovenia it is fair to say that nothing has changed. Rooney came on in the 70th minute but could not rally the team with many reports stating that Joe Hart, who has also fallen out of popularity, was the hero of the day.
Is this the end of Wayne Rooney’s international career? It is unlikely, as the England team doesn’t have a strong candidate to replace him. He is still the most experienced player in the squad and with England looking increasingly poor in recent games they need all the experience they can get.