England captain Wayne Rooney retires from international football

LONDON – England’s captain and all time record goal scorer Wayne Rooney has announced his retirement from international football with immediate effect, saying it was time to step away from the game.

‘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,’ Rooney said in a statement on Wednesday.

Rooney became the youngest player to represent England when he made his debut against Australia in 2003 at 17 years and 111 days old. He played in three World Cups (2006, 2010, 2014).

Now 31, Rooney retires having scored 53 times in 119 appearances, overtaking Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of 49 in a World Cup qualifier against Switzerland in 2015.

Rooney said he talked with England manager Gareth Southgate, who wanted him back on the international squad for the team’s World Cup qualifiers next month against Malta and Slovakia.

He joined Manchester United last season after 13 seasons at Everton.

‘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.’

England will play Malta on Sept 1 and 3 days after will face Eslovakia.