Time was right to bow out, says Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney, England’s all-time top scorer, has announced his immediate retirement from international football.

No outfield player has won more Three Lions caps than the 31-year-old, who netted a record 53 goals across 119 appearances for his country.

England manager Gareth Southgate phoned Rooney yesterday to say he wanted to include the forward in his upcoming squad following his fine start to life back at boyhood club Everton.

However, the former Manchester United captain will play no further part for his country after informing Southgate of his decision to quit international football for good in the same phone conversation.

In a statement, Rooney said: “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. 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.

“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.”

It is 14 years since the wide-eyed 17-year-old striker burst onto the scene for England, making his debut in a friendly against Australia.

Rooney’s first international goal followed against Macedonia that September and the following summer his outstanding performances led to a place in the Euro 2004 team of the tournament.

The forward was unable to match those individual displays at a major competition, despite going onto play in three World Cups and two further European Championships.

Rooney has, though, left an indelible mark on the national game.

The 31-year-old — just as he would later do with Manchester United — usurped Bobby Charlton as England’s all-time top scorer with his penalty against Switzerland in September 2015.

Rooney replaced David Beckham as the country’s most capped outfield player the following September.

Yet despite being within touching distance of Peter Shilton’s record 125-cap haul for England, Rooney has decided to walk away.

Everton have been dealt a double blow ahead of their Europa League play-off clash against Hajduk Split in Croatia tonight (kick-off 8pm).

The Toffees, 2-0 up from the first leg in their attempt to reach the group stage, travelled without summer signings Davy Klaassen and Sandro Ramirez.

Manager Ronald Koeman revealed that midfielder Klaassen has a foot injury and faces a week on the sidelines, while striker Sandro is rated doubtful for Sunday’s trip to Chelsea because of a heel problem.

Everton’s record signing Gylfi Sigurdsson, meanwhile, could make a first start since arriving from Swansea


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