Rooney to Captain England During Farewell Appearance
England’s record goalscorer Wayne Rooney will captain the side and wear the number 10 shirt when he comes on to make his farewell appearance.
Rooney, 33, retired from international football in 2017 but will win his 120th and final cap in a friendly against the United States at Wembley on Thursday.
Fabian Delph will start the match as captain but will hand the armband to Rooney when the DC United striker comes on as a substitute in the second half.
Rooney will also get a guard of honour.
The former Manchester United and Everton forward initially ended his international career with 119 caps and a record 53 goals.
But the Football Association sees Thursday’s match as an opportunity to “honour” his “record-breaking international career”.
Rooney will leave the squad before they face Croatia in the Nations League at Wembley on Sunday.
Manchester City player Delph said: “When I first came into the England set-up, Wayne was captain. He welcomed me and put his arm around and made me feel at home.
“As soon as he comes on, I will give him the armband back.
“It is going to be a huge night for Wayne and it is important we honour him for all of his achievements.”
Asked if this was the highlight of his career, Delph told BBC Radio 5 live: “It will be, and a really proud moment for my girls back home and the rest of my family and friends.
“It has been a rollercoaster ride for me in the last few years regarding injuries and being in and out of the team at City.
“I have stayed focused I have stayed dedicated and I have worked really hard. Especially after the last twelve months the hard work has paid off.”
Manager Gareth Southgate added: “I don’t want to pin an exact time on when Wayne comes on because you don’t know how the flow of the game will go.
“We will give him enough so that it is fitting but we also want to make sure we get the balance of looking at younger players and making sure our preparation for Sunday is another priority.
“It’s important for all of us as a group that he gets a good send-off.”
‘Disappointing to see Rooney have to defend inclusion’
Rooney’s inclusion was criticised by England’s record appearance-maker Peter Shilton, who said caps should not be “given out like gifts”.
Former goalkeeper Shilton, who made 125 international appearances, said he was “surprised” Southgate had allowed the one-off return.
Rooney said he would not have agreed to play had it impacted the legacy of others, such as by “taking the record off Shilton”.
Southgate, who won 57 caps, said: “It’s been disappointing to see him have to defend his inclusion.
“He is very different to run-of-the-mill players like me who played for England. I spoke to the under-15s last week and they are so early in their development but he was around the senior squad when he was 17.
“I know a big regret for him was that the team didn’t get to where he wanted but when you look at the pressure he had to deal with individually, it is an incredible career.
“Hopefully he has felt that warmth from all of us and I know the reaction of the supporters will be very special to him.”
‘Rooney inclusion does not devalue friendly’
Rooney left Everton to join DC United in June and led the club to the MLS play-offs with 12 goals in 21 games.
As his international career comes to an end, Callum Wilson’s could begin after the Bournemouth striker was included in the Three Lions squad for the first time.
Southgate said: “We are England and every time we play we have to perform. It’s about Wayne but it will be a special night because there will be some debuts.
“You don’t give the England captaincy to somebody unless they really have the attributes that can carry it.
“When you see players give everything, even when they are not starting, that is great. We will have some young players involved, but so too will America, who are in a period of transition so it will be a good test.”
United States interim boss Dave Sarachan does not believe England’s tribute to Rooney will “devalue” Thursday’s friendly.
“If he scores against us I won’t be happy about the decision,” he joked.
“I have thought about it because I know it has caused controversy. My opinion is different. A player like Wayne Rooney, who had such a terrific international career in terms of his national team… to have an opportunity to reward him for that as a federation… I kind of applaud that.
“It is not like he is coming out of retirement, he has had a great season in the United States. He adds a special buzz. I think it’s terrific for a guy like Wayne to be rewarded.”