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The Outraged English Media Response To Wayne Rooney's England Recall

The Outraged English Media Response To Wayne Rooney's England Recall
Arthur James O'Dea
By Arthur James O'Dea
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Wayne Rooney is set for an unexpected return to international football. Two years after playing his last game for England, the DC United striker will come out of retirement for one-night-only in a friendly fixture against the United States in Wembley on November 15.

A fixture designed to raise funds for charity, it will allegedly serve as a manner of marking the conclusion to Rooney's international career, and, given the forward's growing presence in Major League Soccer, presumably be used as a tool to engineer greater interest in the tie across the Atlantic.

Something of a ceremonial cap for England's record goalscorer then, vast swathes of the English media have criticised the decision to recall Rooney amid such circumstances.

Chief Football Correspondent of The Telegraph Jason Burt believes the decision is contrary to Gareth Southgate's warning that England players should expect no "easy" caps.

"Rooney retired from international football in August 2017. That is 15 months ago! Not just that but he announced it after choosing to turn down the chance to be part of the squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovakia. He chose to go."

Citing the potential preparatory value of the game against the United States, Burt believes the tie has now become little more than the 'Wayne Rooney Show'.

"This is not a slight on Rooney. In fact it has nothing to do with him, more the belief and hope that England had moved on from such a personality-driven approach.


"Even if it is effectively for charity, [this] would appear to go against everything that Southgate has set out during his time as England manager."

Chief Football Writer of the BBC Phil McNulty was similarly sceptical of the whole idea.

"As a player in an England game, [does this] effectively reduces the status of the international to a testimonial fixture in all but name?


"And, for all the arguments against, that is what it will be as a player who self-evidently was out of serious international form and consideration two years ago, and is now in the autumn of his career with DC United in Major League Soccer, is parachuted back into the team (however briefly) to officially pull down the curtain.

"No matter how ceremonial, does what effectively amounts to a testimonial appearance for Rooney in what is meant to be the new modern era after England's unlikely achievement of reaching the World Cup semi-final seriously chime with this fresh, new-blood approach?

"This is the argument of realism. Others will be pleased there is still a place for such sentimental gestures amid the hard-nosed environment of international football."

Wayne Rooney

Many representing the Daily Mail were amongst those most fervently against the idea. Speaking to BBC radio, Football Editor of the paper Ian Ladyman felt it set a "dangerous precedent."


"I don't agree with it at all," Ladyman stated.

"Wayne has had a fantastic international career, given his all for his country. However, Wayne's international career is over, and I personally think England caps should be earned and not given out."


When it was put to him that this tie is directly attempting to fund-raise money for charity, Ladyman replied; "It's an England game."

"It's an England game, it's a recognised fixture. The question is this; is he being picked for the England squad on merit?

"It Gareth Southgate says that he is then fair enough, he's the coach, but I'd be surprised if that was the case.


"I think he's been picked to say thank you, to say fare well, and he deserves [that]. Have him on the pitch before the game, name the game after him ... give him his due, give him what he deserves, but I personally think if you start giving England caps out as gifts or presents, I don't know where you stop.

"Wayne Rooney at the last count has earned 119-caps, and to be given one more as a thank you, I'm not sure how well that sits with me."

In a similar vain, the Mail's Martin Samuel struggled to see the point in Rooney being afforded such a comeback.


Present him with a commemorative gold England cap. Name the game in his honour. Give his charities the entire proceeds. Let his kids be the mascots and put his favourite band on at half-time. Just don’t put Wayne Rooney in the England team on November 15.

Perhaps the most vociferous of the detractors, Samuel goes on.

"It does not matter whether he plays for ten minutes or 90. They have turned an England international into another arm of showbiz.

"The national team is a tribute act and the record books deserving of an asterisk. Rooney made 119 appearances for England – and one that was a charity job.

"Other countries do it, is the FA’s argument – the same one they advanced for going without a national stadium.

"So why can’t England be different? Why can’t this be the country where caps – all caps – have meaning? When nothing is given cheaply, or on name alone. Isn’t it time they got their own ideas?"

Arguing that this decision will ultimately undermine the same concern that Burt raised regarding Southgate's assertion that there were no "easy" England caps.

Few get to choose their exit. The FA have changed that. They could have written a cheque, instead they have set a precedent that will be impossible to ignore. Certainly the next time Southgate attempts to emphasise the meaning of the international game.

Speaking himself of the recall, Southgate stated; "This tribute to Wayne is a unique opportunity that is befitting of our nation’s record goalscorer."

A decision that has raised a somewhat strange level of outrage, Wayne Rooney will almost certainly receive a warm reception from the fans keen to wish him a fond farewell.

See Also: How Will Ireland Look In 2026? We Used Football Manager 2019 To Find Out


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