Belfast Telegraph

Wayne Rooney calls on English boys to follow his lead

By Paul Hirst

Wayne Rooney hopes he will not be the last Englishman to break the 50-goal barrier.

Rooney moved level with Gary Lineker on 48 international goals on Sunday when he scored the winner in England's 3-2 win over Slovenia.

Lineker famously missed a penalty against Brazil towards the end of his international career, which left him one shy of Sir Bobby Charlton's 49-goal record, but given that Rooney is 29, he is almost certain to pass the 50-goal mark.

The history books could be rewritten as early as September, when England travel to San Marino, the second-lowest ranked nation in world football, ahead of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Rooney said: "I am proud to be within a goal of equalling Sir Bobby's record. It is something I will look back on at the end of my career and be extremely proud of.

"It's stood for 45 years. Many players have had a go and tried to do and not done it. To be within a goal, at 29 with a few good years in me, I'm sure it will happen. If I was in my last year or six months, I'd be more edgy, but I'm not concerned. I'm sure it will happen at some stage."

The most recent players who have tried - and failed - to get near Charlton's landmark are Michael Owen, who scored his 40th and final England goal at the age of 27, and Alan Shearer who retired at 29 having scored 30 goals.

The only other member of the current England set up to have scored more than 10 goals is Danny Welbeck, who has scored 14 times in 33 games. But with young goal scorers like Harry Kane and Daniel Sturridge emerging, Rooney hopes his new record will not stand for long.

"You're hoping that two or three who come in and take it really quick. That'd be great," Rooney said.

"If it happens, I wouldn't be too concerned. The main thing would be that it did happen and I am sure it will."

England boss Roy Hodgson said: "Wayne has that wonderful ability to mix with every type of group. He is still young enough and enthusiastic to play PlayStation with them if necessary, then he can play the senior player with his 48 goals and he can also play on his experience as Man United captain."

Belfast Telegraph