With Wayne Rooney announcing his international retirement, expect numerous column inches to be written about his time with England.
Most of these will be puff pieces discussing his 13-year spell as a Three Lion in a positive fashion. Indeed, a lot of them will likely be done with a bit of revisionism from writers who were slating him not so long ago.
What they won’t praise Rooney for is the timing of his retirement. More specifically, how it is the perfect middle finger to England in general, starting with Gareth Southgate.
Fantastic Rooney waited for Southgate to say he wanted him back for England before informing them he no longer wanted to play. Well played!
— Wes Cartlidge (@wescart_) August 23, 2017
Make no mistake, the current England boss has used Rooney for his own agenda since taking charge.
By omitting him from his last squad, Southgate was making a statement. His desire was to show everyone that a big name alone would not get you into his squad and Rooney was the easiest target.
He was not the first England manager to do such a thing. Steve McClaren, another dubious choice as England boss, pulled the same trick with David Beckham.
That came back to haunt McClaren and Southgate’s treatment of Rooney has come back to haunt him, too. This England team needs him, of that there is no doubt.
They are not exactly swimming in quality strikers and he is arguably the second best they have. He’s not going to get in ahead of Harry Kane but you’d be a fool to have Danny Welbeck, Jermain Defoe or Jamie Vardy ahead of him.
Having a fit and motivated Rooney in the squad would be a great bonus, especially given this squad is not the most experienced either. In fact, the current group desperately needs a leader and he would be it.
Instead, he has taken the stance that Southgate doesn’t want him at his worst, they don’t deserve him at his best. Rooney has played Southgate at his own game and fair play to him.
Wayne Rooney's retirement a real blow to England fans who need a really talented player to complain about. They're coming for you Harry!
— Kyle Martino (@kylemartino) August 23, 2017
While putting a firm finger up to Southgate with his retirement, Rooney is doing the same to the England fans.
During his time in an England shirt, nobody has received stick from the fanbase like he has.
Whenever the Three Lions have failed or fallen short, it is has been Rooney who has shouldered the blame. Most of the time it has been completely unjustified, with other players playing far worse than he.
Like with Southgate, the England fans were happy to wave Rooney off when he wasn’t at his best. Now he’s back in form, they’re clamouring for him to return.
If he flourishes at Goodison Park this season those calls for him to return will only increase, regardless of his retirement. Now he can simply sit back and watch them with a smile on his face. They won’t realise what they had until they can’t have it back and Rooney knows it.
Wayne Rooney retires from international football
Rooney's England career:
⚽️England's all-time leading goalscorer pic.twitter.com/RwkHBSFmA1
— BBC 5 live Sport (@5liveSport) August 23, 2017
Whatever you think of Rooney personally, there is absolutely no denying he’s an England legend. A quick look at his stats alone shows he is more than deserving of that tag.
In this modern game, players don’t often get to leave on their own terms. By retiring now, he has managed to do just that.
The fact his decision to call time on his England career is a huge middle finger to both Southgate and the fan base will likely make it all the sweeter.