It was possibly the most embarrassing defeat in the history of English international football. The Three Lions entered the tournament with so much hope after some impressive displays in 2016, but after a shameful display against Iceland, go home with their heads bowed. The competition should also prove to be the end of Wayne Rooney’s international career, with this being yet another failure at a major tournament for the Manchester United man.
Based on statistics alone, Rooney will go down as one of England’s greatest players. Against Iceland he equalled David Beckham’s record for most international caps for an outfield player with 115, and in September scored a penalty against Switzerland to make him England’s all-time highest goal scorer.
However when it comes to major tournaments, the 30-year-old simply hasn’t turned up since bursting on to the scene with four goals at Euro 2004, when the nation thought it had found the man to take them to glory. His penalty against Iceland was just his seventh England goal in tournaments, and only one of those has come at a World Cup.
In France, Rooney was moved to a deeper position in the centre of midfield, and safe to say, it didn’t work out. He did alright against Russia and Wales, but in the round of 16 game with Iceland, he had a poor game. Too regularly he gave the ball away, and it was clear to see England lacked a leader, despite Rooney being captain.
Many spoke of how England’s youthful exuberance would help them play fast, attacking football that would cause problems for some of Europe’s top defences. This was not the case. Rooney lacked pace both on and off the ball, and constantly slowed play down when England would have benefitted more from him quickly getting it forward.
But it’s not just Rooney’s performances that mean he has to be left out of the English side. With a number of exciting young players coming through, it is time for England to move forward, and that isn’t possible with Rooney still in the side.
Rooney will be remembered as one of England’s greatest players for his goal scoring record alone, but realistically he won’t achieve anything more impressive in his international career, and it is now time for him to be moved on.