Manchester United and England legend Wayne Rooney will tonight make his 120th and final international appearance against the United States at the home of football – Wembley Stadium.
Record goalscorer for club and country, multiple Premier League winner, Champions League winner and an appearance in the FIFPro World XI in 2011, Rooney has deserved all the accolades that have come his way.
England’s most capped outfield player will receive the send-off he has earned after playing and winning for 15 years at the top level.
Having spent the past few months of his career playing in Major League Soccer in the United States and left his mark, Rooney will tonight leave one final mark on English football when he comes off the bench to receive his last cap – taking the armband from Manchester City midfielder Fabian Delph who will start the game as captain.
All money received from tonight’s game will be donated to the Wayne Rooney Foundation.
Ahead of the showdown between two of the leading nations of the western world, MM takes a look at some of the best England goals scored by Rooney.
FYR Macedonia 1-2 England (UEFA Euro 2004 Qualifier, September 2003 – Gradski Stadium, Skopje, Macedonia)
England had a golden generation at their disposal containing the likes of David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Michael Owen and the Neville brothers. But the golden generation’s leading light was just 17 years of age – a young man named Wayne Rooney.
Just under a year after smashed in the winner against Arsenal as a 16-year-old, Rooney scored his first England goal against Macedonia in a European Championship qualifier against Macedonia and in doing so he became the country’s youngest scorer – aged 17 years and 317 days.
It didn’t start well for England as they fell behind just before the half hour mark following a sloppy start.
The first half continued in the same vein for the visitors, but Emile Heskey’s introduction at the break changed the game and early in the second half he headed the ball back to Rooney who approached the edge of the box to lash home his first England goal with a thumping first-time finish. Beckham completed the comeback from the spot, as England stayed above Turkey approaching the business end of the group.
A goalless draw in Istanbul a month later confirmed England’s qualification as group winners, but had they slipped up in Skopje it could have been very different as they would have had to go through a play-off – which Turkey lost to Latvia – missing out on the Euros.
Rooney’s first England goal was a vital one for his country, and it certainly wouldn’t be his last.
Croatia 2-4 England (UEFA Euro 2004 Group Stage, June 2004 – Estadio da Luz, Lisbon, Portugal)
Going into Euro 2004, England were widely tipped to go very far. A 2-1 defeat to France in match day one was followed up by a convincing 3-0 win over Switzerland in the penultimate group game. Defeat against Croatia on match day three though, would see the Three Lions eliminated.
It was looking that way when they fell behind to an early goal from current Bayern Munich manager Niko Kovač after five minutes.
Croatia were knocking at the door for a second, but England soon began to come into the game and five minutes before the break they equalised as Rooney assisted his soon to be teammate Paul Scholes before Scholes returned the favour on the stroke of half-time for Rooney to put England ahead.
England were soon in command of proceedings when Rooney latched onto Owen’s through ball before calmly slotting home past an onrushing Tomislav Butina in the Croatia goal. Croatia pulled one back, but Lampard rounded off the victory 10 minutes from time.
Rooney was the star of the show. England’s hero was a player who was decisive at crucial times in games throughout his career, and at the age of 18 he was his country’s key man and carrying the hopes of a nation.
Ukraine 0-1 England (UEFA Euro 2012, June 2012 – Donbass Arena, Donetsk, Ukraine)
England had picked up four points from their opening two group games against France and Sweden, which put them in a good position to progress to the quarter-finals.
They did just that. In the first half, England were under the cosh in a cauldron of noise as the Ukrainian supporters urged their team on. Early in the second half, though, England were the ones who poked their noses in front through as Rooney headed in Gerrard’s cross.
He couldn’t miss, but the goal was important as it put England through as group winners ahead of France who failed to beat Sweden on the final match day.
Brazil 2-2 England (International Friendly, June 2013 – Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Wembley has been named the ‘home of football,’ but many Brazilians would have something to say about that statement as Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Maracanã is a stadium with rich history.
Like Wembley, the Maracanã was re-developed. The re-vamp came with the purpose of playing host to a selection of games at the 2014 World Cup – including the final.
But the official opening of the stadium came a year before the tournament took place, against an England side who went into the game as underdogs.
In the first half, Brazil’s samba stars featuring Neymar dominated the game but did not have a goal to show for it until shortly before the hour mark when striker Fred broke the deadlock.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came off the bench to equalise, before a curling Rooney shot from 35 yards out flew into the top corner – the United star was centre stage at the Maracana.
Paulinho levelled the scores a few minutes later, but Rooney’s goal sent the Maracanã into silence as England rained on Brazil’s parade by denying them victory.
England 2-0 Poland (FIFA World Cup 2014 Qualifier, October 2013 – Wembley Stadium, London, UK)
Four months after having the honour to play at the Maracanã, England’s footballers would have been hungry to return to South America to play at the World Cup.
England were handed a tricky qualifying group which contained tough games against Poland, Ukraine and Montenegro. Throughout qualifying, Roy Hodgson’s men were top of the group but had the other three teams breathing down their necks. Going into the last match day, it was just Ukraine who were waiting to spoil England’s party.
Ukraine’s game in San Marino was inevitably going to end in an away victory, and if it was the same result or a draw at Wembley then England would not progress as group winners and would have to go through a qualifier for the right to play in Brazil.
Luckily, such a scenario didn’t occur as England did a professional job and won as they ended the qualification campaign unbeaten. Poland went close through Robert Lewandowski in the first half, but soon after Rooney would not waste his opportunity as he met Leighton Baines’ pinpoint cross to power the ball past Wojciech Szczęsny in the Poland goal.
England held onto their led until stoppage time when Gerrard broke from midfield to ensure that the Three Lions were sent roaring to Brazil.
England 2-0 Switzerland (UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifier, September 2015 – Wembley Stadium, London, UK)
When Raheem Sterling was bought down in the box five minutes from time with England 1-0 up against Switzerland, they had a chance to wrap up victory.
The responsibility from the spot fell to Rooney, who put the ball down knowing that if he scored it would be his 50th goal for England – a goal which would make him his country’s all-time top-scorer.
Rooney was all too used to pressure situation throughout his career, but this situation would have been right up there for what was at stake.
It wasn’t a problem for Rooney, as he emphatically lashed the ball into the top corner putting the game to bed. With that, he put another thing to bed – Sir Bobby Charlton’s record, which had stood for 45 years.