Southgate: “Rooney has earned the right” to final cap, tribute

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If anyone has “earned the right” to one final call-up to the England national team, it’s Wayne Rooney, according to current England boss Gareth Southgate.

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Speaking in a press conference after naming his 28-man squad for next week’s friendly against the U.S. men’s national team and UEFA Nations League clash with Croatia, Southgate seemed annoyed that he found himself “justifying” the decision to celebrate England’s all-time leading goalscorer (53) and most-capped outfield player (119) with an official send-off, against the Americans next Thursday.

“We are a strange country as in that we bemoan the fact we haven’t achieved as much as we like,” Southgate said. “We have a player who should be held in the highest regard yet we spend a lot of time justifying that tribute. I am looking forward to seeing and working with him in the next few days.”

“If somebody is going to earn that cap it is someone who has got 119 more than someone who has one. I think he’s earned the right to that cap over a period of over 10 years, six major tournaments and being our record goalscorer.

“It is an opportunity to pay tribute to what he has achieved.”

“I understand it’s caused a lot of debate and conjecture, but it’s a way of appreciating what he’s given.”

“We went to Germany and they honored Podolski (in March 2017) He started the game and we were all struck by the fact that it was a good way to recognize someone who’s had a fantastic career for his country. We’ve not been brilliant at that over the years.”