England’s record goalscorer Wayne Rooney has announced his retirement from international football.
The Everton striker, 31, won 119 caps, putting him second only to Peter Shilton, and scored 53 goals since making his debut in February 2003, breaking Bobby Charlton’s national record of 49 in September 2015.
Rooney was permanent England captain since replacing Steven Gerrard in the role after the 2014 World Cup.
He last played for his country against Scotland in November 2016 and had not scored for the national side since his strike against Iceland as England crashed out of Euro 2016 at the last-16 stage.
Rooney had been tipped for a recall after scoring twice in his first two Premier League games – taking his top-flight tally to 200 – since returning to Everton from Manchester United.
But he has decided to turn that opportunity down and focus on his club career in a decision that comes less than a year before the 2018 World Cup in Russia, which was expected to be his swansong.
53 goals. 119 games. Forever a #ThreeLions legend.
— England (@England) August 23, 2017
Rooney’s statement read: “It was great that Gareth Southgate called me this week to tell me he wanted me back in the England squad for the upcoming matches. I really appreciated that.
“However, having already thought long and hard, I told Gareth that I had now decided to retire for good from international football. It is a really tough decision and one I have discussed with my family, my manager at Everton and those closest to me.
“Playing for England has always been special to me. Every time I was selected as a player or captain was a real privilege and I thank everyone who helped me. But I believe now is the time to bow out.
“Leaving Manchester United was a tough call, but I know I made the right decision in coming home to Everton. Now I want to focus all my energies on helping them be successful.
“I will always remain a passionate England fan. One of my very few regrets is not to have been part of a successful England tournament side.
“Hopefully the exciting players Gareth is bringing through can take that ambition further and I hope everyone will get behind the team.
— Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) August 23, 2017
“One day, the dream will come true and I look forward to being there as a fan or in any capacity.”
Rooney’s debut came as a 17-year-old against Australia in February 2003, with his first goal arriving against Macedonia in September of that year.
He starred at Euro 2004, scoring four goals in as many games to be named in the Team of the Tournament, only for injury to see his tournament cut short in a quarter-final defeat to Portugal.
Rooney also played for England at three World Cups in 2006, 2010 and 2014 and went on to appear at a further two Euros for England in 2012 and 2016.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 23, 2017