There was a time when earning an England cap really meant something.
It was the absolute pinnacle of every player’s career, and a responsibility that each took seriously.
The difficulty of consistently finding oneself in the senior set-up was obvious by the lack of players that had managed to amass anywhere close to 100 caps, let alone exceed that number.
In the recent past, the handing out of caps has become more and more contentious, but none more so that the most recent; a 120th appearance for Wayne Rooney, two years after his last game for his country.
Let us not forget that in August 2017, when Gareth Southgate attempted to bring him out of retirement after Rooney’s resurgence in form, the player had said he had no intention whatsoever of pulling on the Three Lions again.
“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,” he said at the time.
“I really appreciated that. However, having already thought long and hard, I told Gareth that I have now decided to retire for good from international football […] I believe now is the time to bow out.”
Read that again. “I have now decided to retire for good.”
And yet, here we are, just over a year on from those – definitive – sentiments, and Rooney is preparing to pull on the England jersey again “for one last time.”
Call me cynical, but ticket sales for the match against the United States haven’t exactly been great.
Dressing the game up as ‘The Wayne Rooney Foundation International’ sucks too.
The FA are trying to wriggle out of this marketing ploy by suggesting it’s a final chance to pay tribute to England’s greatest ever goal scorer.
Notably, none of the England players were consulted by Southgate when the manager was making his decision, suggesting that this was something concocted in the corridors of power and then foisted upon the squad.
We’re led to believe that Rooney will come on as a sub wearing the No.10 shirt he inherited for Michael Owen, however, Raheem Sterling is now the proud owner of the iconic number.
At 33 and well past his best, it’s doubtful that Rooney will add much to the game, but his name will probably add a few more thousand to the gate.
Not for me though.
It’s a pathetic attempt by the FA to wring every last hard-earned pound out of those that would be better served buying Christmas presents for their kids, rather than swelling the coffers of the ‘Wayne Rooney Foundation.’
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