Don’t hate, appreciate: Rooney calls time on Three Lions career

Adam Brown

After beginning the new Premier League campaign for Everton in great form, Wayne Rooney has confirmed his retirement from international football.

The 31-year-old scored 53 goals in in 119 games for the Three Lions, but towards the end of his international career, the forward was nowhere near appreciated enough.

When first breaking onto the scene, Rooney was quickly faced with the burdening expectation from England – the nation were pinning their hopes on the young Everton forward for the upcoming European Championships in 2004.

Despite being 18 years old, Rooney was England’s main talisman in Portugal, scoring four goals in 258 minutes of play, the teenager finished second in the top scorer table – one behind Milan Baros who scored five in 384 mins.

At a major tournament, Wayne Rooney had scored more goals per minute than players like Ruud van Nistelrooy and Thierry Henry.

A performance like that at a European Championships would probably merit a £100million+ move in today’s era – so why are people so quick to forget such success? It’s almost like some fans are hesitant to give credit. In his prime, Rooney was world-class.

Of course, the English man may not have performed as strongly for club and country in the last few years, but what were fans expecting?

Not only did Rooney peak at an earlier point in his career, the quality of the England squad has got worse since the former captain’s debut in 2003. It’s ridiculous to scapegoat and tarnish a legend’s career, simply because the Three Lions have been terrible in their last two major tournaments.

Joining one of the Premier League’s best ever strikers, Alan Shearer, the Everton man has now reached 200 Premier League goals.

Following retirement from international football, the Everton man’s career will only benefit from the extra rest, and given that he’s only 31, he could be effective in the Premier League for a few more years.

The England legend’s record will take some beating, but given some of the criticism that the attacker has received over the years – it feels like fans will only now appreciate Rooney, now that he’s gone.

In many ways, Rooney was the last reminder of England’s prestigious era. A reminder of the 2004 and 2006 squads which involved the likes of David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand to Ashley Cole. There’s no comparison between the side of now and the one in the previous decade.

As the last remaining star player from the previous generation, the retirement of the England and Manchester United legend marks the official start of a new era. The pass of the torch.

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