Gary Lineker has backed Wayne Rooney to amass plenty more England goals between now and the end of his international career and hopes that he can lead the country to the 2018 World Cup.
Rooney surpassed Bobby Charlton’s long-standing record to move onto 50 England goals as he scored from the penalty spot in Tuesday’s 2-0 European Championship qualifying win over Switzerland.
Former Tottenham and Barcelona striker Lineker notched 48 goals during his own England career and, with Rooney still only 29, the BT Sports presenter has backed the current skipper to keep going for some time yet.
“I was really pleased for him, it’s good to get it out of the way,” Lineker said of Rooney’s record-breaking strike.
“It’s a wonderful achievement to be the highest goalscorer in England’s international history. He’s been a terrific player over a long period of time and there has been great longevity to his career.
“You never know how long a player has left, especially with strikers. Once you turn 30, as a striker you are usually on the way down, but as a player who is not entirely reliant on pace, you would hope he’s got a few years left.
“Playing from the age of 16 at such a high level has to take its toll, but physically he is very strong and you would hope he can make it to the next World Cup. He’s also proving to be a very good leader and he clearly has the respect of his team-mates.”
Lineker feels the Manchester United man could set a goal target that could prove insurmountable to many.
“It’s fairly pointless to put a figure on how many more goals he could score in his England career because it depends on so many aspects, but you can see a lot more coming,” he said.
“Depending on fitness and form, and how he does in the European Championship next summer, you would definitely, definitely back him to score plenty more.
“I think it (Rooney’s record) will last a long time. We’ve got no-one anywhere near it at the moment, so it’s going to last at least 10 years.
“You’d have to score five, six a year, which is not that easy, so it has to last for a good period of time. Harry Kane might come through and prove to be a very consistent goalscorer, he might not. You can’t throw that one at him yet, it’s ridiculous.
“He’s got to establish himself. He’s not in the England team yet as a starter. I would suggest we have a long wait. And he could put it, not out of sight, but into the 60s,” he said.
Lineker will host a BBC documentary next month that focuses on Rooney’s life on and off the pitch with contributions from the likes of Charlton and United boss Louis van Gaal.
With plenty of access to Rooney, Lineker is hopeful the country can see a different side to their national skipper, who still divides opinion amongst fans.
“It will be revelatory and it will transform the public opinion of him,” he said of the forthcoming programme.
“It will be interesting to see the reaction of the general public to the film. He comes over honestly and frankly. We don’t get a glimpse into footballers’ personal lives, and this film certainly does that. “It will be a real eye-opener. He’s a decent guy with a lovely family.
“People will always have questions about you. However good you are we have a tendency in this country to look at the negative.”
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