LONDON (AFP) – England captain Wayne Rooney has pledged that he will never follow the examples of former team-mates such as Steven Gerrard and Rio Ferdinand by retiring from international football.
The 29-year-old Manchester United striker marked his 100th England appearance with a goal as Roy Hodgson’s side came from behind to win 3-1 at home to Slovenia in a Euro 2016 qualifier on Saturday.
Gerrard, Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole have all retired from England duty over the past 18 months, but Rooney hopes to emulate former captain David Beckham by playing on for as long as he can.
Asked if he would ever contemplate retiring from international football, he said: “No, I don’t think so. A lot of the players I’ve played with over the last 10 years — Steven, Frank, Ashley, Rio — have retired (from internationals).
“I actually spoke to my wife about it. I said, ‘It’s mad how all the players are retiring.’ When you get to a certain age, you almost feel like you have to do it to extend your club career.
“She was actually very good. She was the one who said to me, ‘It’s a short career, you’ve got plenty of time to have your time off with us as a family when you finish playing and you’ll regret it if you do.’
“I thought, ‘Yes, I would.’ Football is what I love doing. I love playing for England. I would regret it, so I don’t think I ever would walk away.”
While Rooney’s wife, Coleen, has been influencing his thinking about his future in the game, he says that his youngest son, Klay, has prompted him to re-evaluate how he became a footballer in the first place.
Rooney is often described as a ‘naturally gifted’ player, and he says that watching one-year-old Klay kick a football around in the garden has convinced him that talent may indeed be something innate, rather than something that can be acquired.
“I’ll be honest, I always thought you have to work at it, but I’ve now seen my youngest lad and from the minute he was born, he wanted the ball,” Rooney told journalists during a briefing this week.
“It’s incredible to watch him. He’s just over one and a half and without any teaching, his technique was unbelievable.
“Then I started thinking, you must be born with something. Then it’s obviously how you use it, how you work on it when you get older. Before that I would have said it was something you work on and pick up and learn.”
Having become the ninth player to reach the 100-cap threshold for England, Rooney hopes to make his 101st international appearance when Hodgson’s side tackle old foes Scotland in a friendly at Celtic Park on Tuesday.
“I can’t wait. I think it will be a great game. It’s great for Great Britain and it will be a fantastic atmosphere,” he said.
“I’m actually glad it’s at Celtic Park. It will be even more special there and it’s a game I’ve been looking forward to since the fixture was made.”
The England captain also warned against the popular perception that the rivalry matters more to those north of Hadrian’s Wall than it does to the English.
“I can only speak on behalf of myself, but this is a massive game,” said Rooney, who has had two Scottish club managers in Alex Ferguson and David Moyes.