LONDON • A day after Sam Allardyce confirmed that Wayne Rooney would retain the England captaincy, the striker announced that the 2018 World Cup in Russia would be his final tournament as an international footballer.
"My mind is made up. Russia will be my last tournament," he told a press conference at St George's Park in Burton, central England, yesterday.
Allardyce on Monday called it an "easy decision" to keep faith with the 30-year-old for their World Cup qualifying campaign, which begins in Slovakia on Sunday.
Number of international caps Wayne Rooney has. He needs one more to become England's most capped outfield player.
International goals the Three Lions skipper has scored.
In six major tournaments Rooney has appeared for his country, England reached the last eight thrice - during the 2004 and 2012 European Championships and 2006 World Cup.
"He is the most senior member of the squad and he is hugely respected by his peers. All of these factors point towards him being the right choice to lead the team," said the manager.
John Stones and Eric Dier are regarded as potential future captains - as is Joe Hart, who yesterday moved on loan from Manchester City to Italian Serie A club Torino in a bid to retain his place as first-choice goalkeeper for the national team. But Allardyce sees no cause to change that as long as Rooney is a part of his starting XI.
Rooney will make his 116th England appearance in Trnava, taking him past David Beckham as the country's most capped outfield player. Captain since August 2014, the Manchester United striker is also England's record scorer with 53 goals. But, in six major tournament appearances with England, he has never gone further than the quarter-finals.
England crashed out in the group phase at the last World Cup in Brazil two years ago and, with Rooney as captain, were humiliated by minnows Iceland at Euro 2016.
"Hopefully I can end my time with England on a high," Rooney said.
His precise role in the England team, however, remains the subject of intrigue. United manager Jose Mourinho has been quick to move him away from the midfield berth he enjoyed towards the end of last season for both club and country, under Louis van Gaal and Roy Hodgson respectively. But Allardyce is expected to be more flexible in his approach, at times using a 4-3-3 formation that is likely to mean the captain dropping into a deeper role on occasion.
Allardyce suggested that, rather than seeing Rooney in competition with Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge for the centre-forward's spot, he regards the United player primarily as a No. 10, playing behind the striker. That would put him in competition with Ross Barkley, who has been left out of this squad, and Dele Alli.
THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN