For me, it’s been a long time coming, but the last of the ‘old guard’ has finally bowed out of international football. Out with the old and in with the new and all that. That’s not being disrespectful to Wayne Rooney, he will remain as one of England’s greatest players, and his goal scoring record will be safe for a good while yet. However, like any player, time finally catches up with you. Though when your all time leading goal scorer is dropping back in between the centre backs to receive the ball alarm bells should start ringing. For certain games it was as if England were playing with ten men, and when you have a player roaming around the pitch, the shape and system of a team ultimately suffers.

For me, Rooney should have been dropped for the Euros. I understand why it’s difficult to drop a player like Rooney, but when you play him in a random position just so you don’t have to drop him, then enough is enough. If he wasn’t the best player to play in his natural position why would he be the best player to play as a holding midfielder? Hodgson needed to grow a pair, and unfortunately for the nation he bottled making the decision that he was paid millions of pounds to make.

But enough of the moaning. That is the past. After the shambolic mess of big Sam’s reign as England boss. (Who may I say, still let Rooney drop into the centre back position to pick up the ball, after telling an interviewer that Rooney was a striker, and that’s where he will play.) England needed someone to make the decision to drop Rooney from the squad, and fair play to Southgate for doing it, even if it did take him a while. I understand dropping England’s all time top goal scorer, and someone as influential in the changing room who young players look up to is a tough job, but it needed to be done. I wonder; if Rooney hadn’t called it a day on his international career, I’m pretty sure Southgate would have recalled him, and we would have witnessed more of the same.

Thank you Wayne Rooney for retiring, so all the spineless England managers don’t have to make any big decisions! Southgate must have been over the moon to hear the words come out of Rooney’s mouth. I have to admit I have been Rooney’s harshest critic for quite a while when he wore his England shirt, but what he’s done for club and country is quite remarkable. Unfortunately, he never performed on the big stage internationally, and he’d be the first to agree with that. What will never be taken away from him is his 53 international goals in 119 games. I mean Lionel Messi’s current record stand at 58 goals in 118 games, so he’s in good company.

Fair play to Rooney; he’s started the season at Everton in great form like the Rooney of old, and I would love for him to do well now and in seasons to come. Now Rooney can put all his energy into Everton, rather than enduring the negative press that surrounds him on international duty, as well as all the travelling and not to mention the pressure of playing and training for England. When you get to a certain age that all starts to take its toll! Retiring from international football is a great decision for his career at club level. He’s already broken another record, joining Alan Shearer in the 200 Premier league goals club. It goes without saying, Rooney will always be one of England’s greatest players.

There is hope with every new generation. There is no shame in letting go of players who have had their opportunity to shine on the international stage, clinging on to Rooney did England no good. We have great young players performing at the highest level for their clubs, so let them have a chance to put on an England shirt more often. For me, the next player that should get the chop is Joe Hart. I like him when he speaks about football and I love his passion, but for me, Pickford is the goalkeeper for this new young English team.

Of course, I’ll miss the days of Becks, Stevie G and Lamps (and now Rooney), but we have to put our faith in the next generation. Rooney’s announcement of retirement should be the catalyst for England to move forward. Who knows we might make it past the last 16 in the next major tournament.

 

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