IN THE light of Wayne Rooney’s shock return to Everton from his previous 13-year home of Manchester United, the man himself has said he’s eager to revive his England career. He was axed from new manager Gareth Southgate’s squad earlier this year as a direct result of not playing for Jose Mourinho’s side.
Rooney is England’s all-time top goal scorer with 53 but hasn’t donned the Three Lions shirt since last November in the World Cup qualifying fixture against Scotland when he was replaced by some more in-form strikers.
Throughout the 2016-17 domestic season, Rooney only scored eight goals in the 39 matches he played, often being on the substitutes bench after losing out to some of Manchester United’s new signings and younger players.
Returning to his boyhood club, the 31-year old is hopeful of a happier international future.
“I love playing for England,” Rooney told reporters during his first press conference for Everton on Monday. “Of course Gareth had to make a decision… I wasn’t playing the football that I like and I don’t think you should play for your country if you are not playing for your club.
“He told me that, if I get back playing every week, then the door is still open. I want to play for England. I am focused on Everton, getting back playing and doing well and, if I do well, Gareth Southgate will have a decision to make.”
Rooney, who has played 119 times for England and just six short of Peter Shilton’s England record of 125, also said that if he’d gone to play for a Chinese club, which had been muted recently, he would have given up all ambition to return to football at international level.
“If I had gone to China, which was an option, then I would have called it a day. It’s the time difference, the difference in the standard of the league,” Rooney added.
Rooney’s performance at this recent press conference reminded many of his first appearance on a January evening in 2003 as he signed for Everton at the tender age of 17. A combination of nerves, a state of total unpreparedness and the blinding flashes of cameras led to an almost unintelligible show. His manager at the time, David Moyes, told him off for chewing gum and he further embarrassed himself by grabbing a bottle of water from the table and was about to swig it directly before being advised by his boss to: “Pour it in the glass, Wayne!”
Fast forward fourteen years and it was a very different story as he held up the famous blue Nº10 shirt, telling the gathered reporters how he’d managed to keep his transfer deal from Manchester United a secret, even from some of his nearest and dearest.
He knew that it would almost impossible for his parents, Wayne Snr and Jeanette, to keep it in but he was more concerned about what his son would do if he knew in advance. “I didn’t tell Kai [his eldest son] either because he was going to school and I didn’t want him speaking to his mates,” Rooney explained. “It was literally once everything was agreed and the paperwork was through that I told everyone. Kai just jumped on me. It was the happiest I’ve ever seen him. My dad, too. Obviously he’s an Evertonian and he’s been going to Manchester to watch me for the last 13 years. Now he’ll just have a five-minute drive.”