By James Piercy, Football Whispers
Wayne Rooney is set to handed an England swansong at Wembley Stadium on November 15 when the D.C. United striker will be selected by Gareth Southgate for a friendly against the United States.
Rooney has admitted he’s “humbled and excited” by the recall, two years after he last donned the Three Lions shirt in an international career spanning 15 years and breaking records for the most goals for his country (53) and most appearances by an outfield player (119).
We look back over his most memorable moments and performances for his country.
England debut v Australia, 2003
At just 17 years and 111 days, Rooney became the youngest player to represent England at senior level as he took the field at West Ham’s Upton Park during the second-half of a friendly against Australia.
The match itself proved deeply forgettable – at least from an England perspective – as the Socceroos stunned Sven-Göran Eriksson’s side 3-1 but for Rooney it marked the first step in what will be a 15-year international career.
An early pot-shot at goal, an appeal for a penalty and some purposeful runs down the channel, it was by far from his best performance in a white shirt but the seed had been sown.
First international goal v Macedonia, 2003
Seven months later, Rooney found the net for the first time at the Gradski Stadium in Skopje to equalise against Macedonia as England went on to win their Euro 2004 qualifier 2-1.
David Beckham clipped a long pass towards the corner of the penalty area where Emile Heskey had drifted in from the left flank. The forward directed a header into the path of Rooney who darted into the 18-yard box and finished first time with his right foot.
Tournament breakthrough v Switzerland, Euro 2004
Rooney has never been able to match the explosiveness of his tournament bow but, all things considered, given the impact he made in Portugal in the summer of 2004, it would be difficult for anyone to mimic.
In England’s second group match of the tournament, having been narrowly beaten by France in their opener, the 18-year-old announced himself with a double against the Swiss.
He claimed his first from close range as Michael Owen picked him out with a clever cross and then added a second on 75 minutes, on the counter-attack, with a powerful drive following good work from Darius Vassell.
More Euro glory v Croatia, Euro 2004
If that was the breakout display, six days later was the game to establish him as an international force and, in case anyone didn’t know it yet, the future of the England team.
Rooney matched his brace against the Swiss with two more in the final group game against Croatia as England soared into the knockouts.
After Niko Kovač had given the Croats the lead, his header setting up Paul Scholes for the equaliser, he found the back of the net in first-half stoppage time with a blistering long-range strike nestled into the bottom corner.
Rooney doubled his tally in the second-half, exchanging passes with Owen on halfway as England ran out 4-2 winners. Unfortunately, for the Three Lions and Rooney, that proved their highlight as the striker was injured during their quarter-final loss to Portugal.
Revenge is sweet v Croatia, 2009
By now Rooney was a bona fide superstar of the game but his performances and impact for Manchester United had not transferred to the international stage, injury and ill-discipline denied him at World Cup 2006 while England failed to reach Euro 2008 after losing to Croatia in qualifying.
The road to South Africa 2010, therefore, offered a chance for revenge – and England embraced it with both hands. Having beaten the Croats 4-1 in Zagreb, Rooney on target alongside a Theo Walcott hat-trick, they brought cheer to Wembley with a 5-1 thrashing to book their World Cup place.
Rooney claimed the fifth of the night to place a sizeable cherry on the cake as he tapped in following a dreadful clearance by goalkeeper Vedran Runje.
The captaincy v Brazil, 2009
Rooney captained his country 23 times over eight years before handing the armband to Harry Kane. However, his first match in charge took place in slightly unfamiliar territory.
With Qatar bidding to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Doha was the venue for a friendly against Brazil, as the country looked to impress visiting FIFA delegates with their organisation.
In proved a largely uneventful affair as Brazil ran out 1-0 winners but for Rooney, who would captain England permanently from 2014-2017, it was the first sign of a new stage in his career as he began to mature into a leader for club and country.
Record breaker v Switzerland, 2015
It was somewhat fitting that the opposition for the match in which he would surpass Sir Bobby Charlton’s England record would be the team he had delivered the breakout performance against 11 years earlier.
In the end, goal No.50 arrived in modest circumstances as Rooney converted an 84th minute penalty but it was a monumental feat, beating a record that had stood for 45 years.
Rooney went on to score three more for his country and, who knows, maybe No.54 will arrive at Wembley on November 15.