Wed | Nov 21, 2018

Southgate defends giving Rooney a final cap

Published:Friday | November 9, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Southgate

LONDON (AP):

Giving England's record scorer Wayne Rooney a farewell appearance is coach Gareth Southgate's attempt to better celebrate the contribution of the country's football stars.

The 33-year-old Rooney will feature for a 120th England appearance during next Thursday's friendly against the United States at Wembley Stadium despite retiring from international duty in August 2017.

"Those discussions started 12 months ago. We have an opportunity with the game at Wembley to pay tribute," Southgate said. "We have brought former players back to speak and present shirts. I think all the players respect Wayne's contribution and that he deserves the best possible send-off."

Rooney was one of 28 players selected Thursday by Southgate, but the former captain will not play on November 18 against Croatia in England's final UEFA Nations League game.

"I am still able to look to the future with the squad we've picked," Southgate said.

After a career on home soil at Manchester United and Everton, Rooney is now in Major League Soccer with DC United. Southgate was inspired to give the striker a significant tribute after seeing how Germany honoured Lukas Podolski around a 2017 game against England.

"We were all struck by the fact that it was a good way to recognise someone who's had a fantastic career for his country," Southgate said. "We've not been brilliant at that over the years."

As Rooney bids farewell to England, Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson has been called up for the first time after scoring six goals this season in the Premier League.