Ahead of Wayne Rooney’s 100th appearance for England, Paul Scholes has backed the United captain to be England’s go-to-man and believes that Rooney is the key to winning trophies on the international stage.
“Winning 100 caps for your country at the age of 29 would be a landmark in the career of any footballer. The goals Wayne has scored are testament to his quality and you have to say that even now he is the man whom England look to when they need a breakthrough. The previous Euro 2016 qualifier in Estonia was no different.”
Looking back at the English teams of the last decade, Scholes believes that England had a good chance of winning the Euro 2004 but missed Rooney due to an injury.
“The England team we played together in at Euro 2004 would have beaten Portugal in that quarter-final had Wayne not got injured, and I believe we would have got past the Netherlands and into the final. Quite simply, at that tournament, the opposition could not handle his energy and his goalscoring. Since then, like so many English footballers, Wayne has found tournament football that much harder and England’s failures there will surely be his greatest regret.”
Scholes went on to say that Rooney’s frustration at not winning anything with England mirrors his own career along with players like Lampard, Gerrard, Ferdinand, Becham,etc. He also warned the captain that at the age of 29, he is running out of time to win trophies with England.
“He is not alone. I would say the same about my own four international tournaments. As a team England were not good enough, and post-2004 the story was the same. Wayne will have to balance his personal achievements with the failure to win anything with England. Celebrating caps and goals is important and it is right that Saturday will be about Wayne. But ultimately you are judged on trophies and he is running out of time to win one for England.”
Scholes believes that Rooney might just be available for the World Cup in Russia in 2008 and backs the striker to bury the ghosts of the past by winning a trophy with the international team.
“I think – I hope – that Wayne has one more World Cup finals left in him after next summer’s European Championship. I would not like him to end his international career as so many of us have done. That is to say, with a shelf full of winners’ medals from our club careers and just a cupboard full of caps – and plenty of regret – from our days with England.”
Whether Rooney and England can live up to Paul Scholes’ expectations is a question that only time can answer. Meanwhile Roy Hodgson’s captain should concentrate on his duty to lead the team to the 2016 Euro due to be held in France.