Former England captain Wayne Rooney has said that the performance put in by the current crop of internationals at the World Cup this summer has restored the nations pride in the national team.
Rooney brought the curtain down on his international playing days in August 2017, having established himself as England’s all-time leading goalscorer with 53 strikes, as well as setting the new record for most caps (119) for an outfield player.
His retirement meant that he was not a part of England’s incredible and unexpected run to the World Cup semi-finals this summer, but rather than being bitter at not being a part of it, the former Manchester United and Everton ace said that he was happy to be able to enjoy it as a fan again.
“It was great to watch the games. The last time I watched England and wasn’t part of the set up was when I was 16, just 17,” Rooney told the BBC.
“So to go back to that and watch as a fan rather than having those connections as being a part of it was different to what I was used to – it was great to chill out, watch the games and support the team.
“I have seen players in the past who have retired and they maybe don’t want England to do well, I’ve spoken to players who have had that opinion.
“But as an England fan I obviously wanted them to go one step further [at the 2018 World Cup] and get to the final, where anything can happen. I think they have brought a bit of pride back to the England set-up.
“I felt the timing was right when I retired from England, not only for myself but I think for the team. It was the right decision to let the team move on and it was the right time. I have no regrets.”