Everton midfielder Wayne Rooney has declined a return to Gareth Southgate’s England squad, instead choosing to bow out after 119 caps and a record 53 goals.
Rooney has reportedly informed Southgate of his decision in a phone call, who was asking if he would return to the squad and effectively fill the void left by Adam Lallana being injured.
“It was great that Gareth Southgate called me this week to tell me he wanted me back in the England squad for the upcoming matches,” Rooney said. “I really appreciated that. However, having already thought long and hard, I told Gareth that I had now decided to retire for good from international football.”
“It is a really tough decision and one I have discussed with my family, my manager at Everton and those closest to me. Playing for England has always been special to me. Every time I was selected as a player or captain was a real privilege and I thank everyone who helped me. But I believe now is the time to bow out.”
However, Southgate believed that he might still be able to coax Rooney out of for the World Cup if the 32-year-old is able to maintain his form for Everton this season and is open to the idea of playing for England in Russia next summer.
“I don’t see why you ever shut the door on anything,” Southgate said. “I suppose we would have to see where he was at, where the squad was at, where everything else was at. But it would be foolish to say ‘no’ because anything is possible. A part of that question should go to Wayne because you have to respect his decision and the thinking behind it. But have I seen players change their minds? Yes, I think we all have.”
“Wayne has been somebody it may have been easy for the other players to hide behind because he was always the one who has carried the burden. I think that’s been unfair on him. Now everybody has the chance to take the mantle.”