Wayne Rooney Retires from International Football as England's Record Goalscorer

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistAugust 23, 2017

Wayne Rooney celebrates after he scored the penalty that made him England's highest goalscorer during the England v Switzerland European Qualifying match at Wembley Stadium on September 8th 2015 in London (Photo by Tom Jenkins/Getty Images)
Tom Jenkins/Getty Images

Wayne Rooney, England's all-time record goalscorer, announced his retirement from international football on Wednesday. 

The team's official Twitter account relayed the news:

Rooney issued the following statement, courtesy of the Press Association's Simon Peach:

The Everton striker posted the following on his own Twitter account:

The 31-year-old netted 53 times in total for the Three Lions, making 119 appearances in total. He made his debut for his country in 2003 aged just 17.

After netting his second goal of the Premier League season in as many games for the Toffees on Monday, Rooney was asked about the prospect of making a return to Gareth Southgate's squad.

"I am focusing on Everton, but I am sure I will speak to Gareth Southgate over the next few days and we will see what happens," he said, per Chris Bascombe of the Daily Telegraph. It appears those talks were to confirm his time on the international stage was over.

Interim England manager Gareth Southgate (R) and England's striker Wayne Rooney (L) walk on the pitch on the eve of the World Cup 2018 football qualification match between Slovenia and England in Ljubljana,  on October 10, 2016. / AFP / Jure MAKOVEC

According to the Press Association (h/t the Guardian), Southgate wanted Rooney as part of his squad for the upcoming matches with Malta and Slovakia, but the former Manchester United man turned down the chance.

Journalists Henry Winter and Simon Stone both suggested Rooney was making the right decision:

Rooney leaves the England setup without ever sampling silverware, but he's cemented his status as one of the finest players to don the country's jersey.

His performances at the UEFA European Championship in 2004 were the finest from an England player at a major tournament this generation has seen, and he led with distinction and determination as team captain.

As noted by the Daily Mail's Tim Nichols, Rooney can look back on his accomplishments for country and club with some pride:

It's clear the forward feels as though he still has something left to offer at the highest level, though, and that's been evident in the way the striker has started the season for the Toffees.

Having returned to his boyhood club in the summer from United, there's been a renewed fire in the striker's belly early in the 2017-18 season. He netted the winner in Everton's 1-0 victory over Stoke City in the first week of the campaign and grabbed his 200th Premier League goal in the 1-1 draw at Manchester City on Monday.

Rooney has started the season brilliantly for Everton.
Rooney has started the season brilliantly for Everton.James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images

Radio City's David Downie was delighted to see the forward is putting everything into his second spell at Goodison Park:

Leaving Old Trafford was always going to be a significant point in Rooney's illustrious career, and few will disagree with this choice. Having poured so much into the national team, a focus on accomplishments with his boyhood club have to be the new priority.

England will miss Rooney's leadership, determination and goalscoring prowess, but his departure opens up an opportunity for a younger player to step in to become the talisman of a fanatical footballing nation.