By 90Min
November 09, 2018

Wayne Rooney, who has so often divided fans, has been called up to the England national tean by Gareth Southgate in a match which has been labelled a 'send-off' and a PR stunt for the 33-year-old.

Rooney, who retired from England duty last year after a near 14-year career, holds the record as England's all-time leading goalscorer. However, many have questioned Southgate's decision to recall the striker, arguing it devalues the worth of a cap.

Arguably one of the greatest strikers in the history of English football, Rooney amassed a record 53 goals for his country in 119 appearances since making his debut as a 17-year-old under Swedish boss Sven-Göran Eriksson.

However, some fans have consistently played down the label of 'legend' and feel the call-up is something more of a stunt for Rooney and way to further promote 'soccer' in the states, following the striker's switch to DC United. 

Facing a backlash, the FA billed the friendly game at Wembley as 'The Wayne Rooney Foundation International' - despite not donating any gate receipts to the cause.

Then, to seemingly appease some sections of English fans, the FA have also stated that Rooney, who previously turned down Southgate's opportunity of a recall, will not start nor be wear the captain's armband.

It's a shame that the opportunity for a record-breaker, with a stellar international career, to have the honour of captaining his country one last time has been denied. 

Players of Rooney's calibre don't come around too often for England. The English goalscoring record that the striker beat was set over 40 years ago by Sir Bobby Charlton.

As well as a distinguished international career, Rooney also broke goalscoring records at England's most successful club, Manchester United - once again breaking a Sir Bobby record. Charlton's goals came from 758 appearances between 1956 and 1973. Rooney's came come from 546 appearances after he joined the club from Everton in 2004.

Phil Cole/GettyImages

Wayne Rooney has given the English game a tremendous career to reflect and debate on and whether you love him or hate him, you can't erase his name from the history books or argue with his impressive trophy cabinet.

For Rooney to walk out at Wembley, fittingly against the USA where the forward is now playing, wearing the captain's armband one last time is surely a fitting tribute to an iconic figure.

Current England captain Harry Kane has also given a ringing endorsement for the 33-year-old to make his 120th and final England cap as captain, despite the Football Association stating he will not wear the armband.

“I think it’s great,” Kane said, via The Telegraph. “It’s a really good thing that everyone should be a part of. Wayne is one the greatest ever players to play for England, the greatest goalscorer to play for England, so why not give him the send-off he deserves?


“He deserves it. He was a great captain for us. He was captain when I got into the squad. So if he plays, of course he’ll be the captain.”

As for devaluing the currency of an England cap, who remembers David Beckham trying to bulk up his tally to reach Peter Shilton's record of 125 appearances? Fabio Capello introduced an ageing Beckham in the latter stages of games to move past Sir Bobby's total appearances and climb towards Shilton's - even once bringing him on with three minutes to spare. 

The devaluing of caps has already happened and been a gradual process and accelerated by some English managers seemingly throwing them to any Englishman showing an ounce of talent.

Regardless of the FA's public stance, Rooney may end up wearing the armband when he enters the field of play for England if he is handed it by Kane. However, to not let Rooney lead the team out of the tunnel, sing the anthem and then leave the field as a substitute (at some point) to a Wembley crowd on their feet, is an missed opportunity to honour an English legend.

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