EURO 2016 QUALIFIER GROUP E:
England v Slovenia
Wayne Rooney’s pride at notching up a century of caps is clear but so too is the England captain’s desire to end what is set to be a record-breaking international career with a trophy.
Rooney has come a long way from the fresh-faced teenager that made his debut against Australia in 2003, and just less than 12 years later, the Three Lions captain prepares to become the ninth player to rack up 100 caps for England.
“There have been some good moments and some bad moments,” he said on the eve of the Euro 2016 qualifier with Slovenia.
“It is something I have really enjoyed doing. It has always been a great honour to play for England and something I want to carry on doing for a lot more years.
“I think the ultimate goal, which I’ve always said, is to win trophies and it something which we are working towards doing.
“To get 100 caps and join the players who reached that is a great honour for me and something I am proud of.”
Bobby Charlton, rather aptly, will hand the forward his 100th cap.
But Rooney sees Charlton, like fellow centurion Bobby Moore, in a different stratosphere given their World Cup success – something he still dreams of replicating, looking ahead to Russia 2018.
“Those two players are World Cup winners,” he said. “It is not everyday someone can go around and say that.
“That’s what I would like to join, be a World Cup winner. That would be amazing, of course, if we could do that.”
Rooney says there is still “plenty more to achieve” with England and, while trophies may not follow, a place in the record books looks assured.
Peter Shilton’s record haul of 125 caps looks well within the 29-year-old’s reach, as does Charlton’s all-time scoring record of 49.
“They are two records that have stood for a lot of years,” Rooney, already on 43 goals, said. “To get within touching distance... it is something I hope I can do, but it is not something really in mind at the moment.”
Breaking those records would surely end the debate as to whether Rooney is an all-time England great.
The discussion has ratcheted up the closer the forward has got to that 100th cap, but manager Roy Hodgson suggests there is no need for that talk.
“Any player, for me, that has played more than 100 times for England – you could go even further and take it down to 75 caps – deserve the epitaph ‘great’,” he said.
Hodgson hit out at UEFA over the rule change that has left him with just one fit left-back.
Kieran Gibbs will make just his second competitive start for the Three Lions after Leighton Baines pulled out of the squad yesterday with a hamstring injury.
Baines suffered the injury just after at the start of England’s training session at St George’s Park, which began at 11am – the exact time when he submitted his 23-man squad list for the match to UEFA.
Hodgson had left his other left-back Luke Shaw off the list because he wanted to rest the Manchester United defender so he could play in Tuesday’s friendly in Scotland.
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