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:
53 goals. 119 games. Forever a #ThreeLions legend. Thank you, @WayneRooney. https://t.co/j5iT6XHJKz2017-8-23 12:01:21
Rooney issued the following statement, courtesy of the Press Association's Simon Peach:
PA Dugout @PAdugout
@SimonPeach Wayne Rooney has ended his international career with immediate effect https://t.co/AGTD6kPgo62017-8-23 12:02:18
The Everton striker posted the following on his own Twitter account:
Wayne Rooney @WayneRooney
Dreams can come true and playing for @England has been exactly that. Thanks to everyone involved it's been amazing - https://t.co/GfiT7oVCpx2017-8-23 12:09:40
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.
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:
Henry Winter @henrywinter
Right time for Rooney to go. #eng attacking future lies with Kane, Alli & Rashford. Good news for #efc as he'll rest in international weeks.2017-8-23 12:12:17
Simon Stone @sistoney67
Having got so close to the England caps record, Rooney deserves credit for not sticking around when his mind and body said no.2017-8-23 12:19:18
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:
Tim Nichols @TimNicholsDM
Record scorer for United and England, 5 PL titles, Champions League, Europa League, FA Cup, 3 League Cups and yet...2017-8-23 12:08:32
Tim Nichols @TimNicholsDM
...a perception that, despite a brilliant career, Rooney never *quite* fulfilled his potential2017-8-23 12:08:43
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.
Radio City's David Downie was delighted to see the forward is putting everything into his second spell at Goodison Park:
David Downie @daviddownie17
Delighted with this news. Rooney putting his heart and soul into #EFC for the rest of his career.2017-8-23 12:03:33
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.