Wayne Rooney understands why his international return has divided opinion, but England’s all-time top scorer will not allow criticism to spoil an occasion he hopes will become the norm for future greats.
No outfield player has represented the Three Lions more than the 33-year-old, yet the announcement of his one-off comeback appearance against the United States, where he now plays for DC United, has been met by some disapproval.
All-time cap holder Peter Shilton and former interim England manager Stuart Pearce have been among the high-profile critics of the decision to recognise Rooney’s contribution with a 120th and final cap, two years after his last appearance against Scotland.
The forward is not letting that background noise detract from a friendly that will support the Wayne Rooney Foundation, with the forward honoured to be recognised in a way that he hopes future stars will get the chance to follow.
“I think everyone is entitled to their opinions,” Rooney said.
“The most important thing is, speaking with the FA, we both felt it was right. The players obviously who I have spoke to and the FA (I) have spoken to, they agreed, they think it is right.
“As a country, obviously we haven’t done anything like this before. It’s the first time. I hope that in 10, 15 years’ time, we’re sat here for someone say Harry Kane, who could possibly go on and get the goal-scoring record.
“Then it will be something that happens again and of course it’s something different. I am not asking people to agree with it.”
The tribute was a year in the making, with Rooney rejecting the chance to play a part in England’s World Cup warm-up against Nigeria as he did not want to detract from preparations.
Furthermore, he would never have agreed to face the USA if it impacted the legacy of others.
“If I was in a position where this game was going to take the record off Peter Shilton, for instance, I would never have played in the game,” Rooney said.
“I would never have done that. We just felt it was the right time and the right decision to make.”