Southgate defends decision to honour Rooney

Wayne Rooney is an iconic player says Ryan Giggs

Despite having not played for the England in nearly two years, Wayne Rooney will come out of worldwide retirement to play in a friendly at Wembley against the United States later this month, for what will be his final appearance and will raise money for his new charity.

Former Three Lions captain Rooney last played for England in November 2016 but will make his 120th and final appearance for his country against the United States.

A draw with Croatia followed by a victory over Spain leaves England waiting on the result of the meeting between their League A Group Four rivals before Southgate knows what is at stake in his final Nations League game.

"He was the captain when I first got into the squad".

Goalkeeper Peter Shilton, who with 125 caps is the only player to have represented England more times than Rooney, and ex-captain Alan Shearer both agreed that Rooney's achievements deserve honouring - but that should not extend to him playing in the match. "I understand that has caused a lot of debate and conjecture but for me it is a small way of appreciating what he has done for his country".

Rooney, 33, scored 53 goals in his previous 119 caps.

The 33-year-old, who now plays for DC United in Major League Soccer, has not represented the Three Lions in nearly two years and the decision has been met with varied responses by players past and present. We haven't decided on that at this time, so he wouldn't wear No. 10 because he won't start the game.

"The last game he played, when he came on, Jordan Henderson ran over and gave him the armband as soon as he ran on the pitch", he said.

Giggs famously played until he was 40 as he went on to make a record 963 appearances for United - and he feels Rooney will want to play for as long as possible.

Naming a 28-strong squad, Southgate also handed a first call-up to Bournemouth's in-form striker Callum Wilson, a recall to Everton defender Michael Keane, and retained Dortmund's Jadon Sancho. "He's a threat running in behind defences, so this will be a good opportunity to look at him and try to see how he fits in to what we are trying to do".

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