Belfast Telegraph

Wayne Rooney: I need trophies to be called a football great

By Paul Hirst

Wayne Rooney is about to enter an illustrious club of centurions, but does not think he can be regarded as an England great until he wins a tournament with the national side.

Rooney will become just the ninth England player to reach 100 caps on Saturday when he leads the team out for their Euro 2016 qualifier against Slovenia at Wembley.

Of the eight names currently on the list, only Sir Bobby Charlton and Bobby Moore have achieved what Rooney has failed to do in his 11-year international career — lift an international trophy.

Rooney may have five Premier League winner’s medals to his name, but he is yet to win anything with England despite appearing for the Three Lions in five major tournaments.

So while he will be bursting with pride when he receives his 100th cap on Saturday, there will be a slight sense of disappointment in the back of his mind when he reflects on his England career to date.

“There’s not many players who have got to 100 caps. I’ll be proud to join that club and it is something that myself and my family would be honoured by,” the England captain said.

“But I could sit here saying I’ve got 200 caps and 100 goals for my country, but the ultimate is to win a trophy and that’s what we all want to do. That’s why we play football, to win. That’s the target and hopefully we can achieve that.”

Rooney is closing in on another series of landmarks.

The Manchester United striker has his sights set on Peter Shilton’s record of 125 caps and he is six goals short of Charlton’s all-time scoring record.

To top the record of Charlton, who will present Rooney with a special golden cap before kick-off on Saturday, would be another proud moment for the striker.

But Rooney would still not feel comfortable being compared with the Manchester United and England hero unless he matched Charlton’s achievements in the international arena.

“To be England’s greatest ever goals scorer would be massive,” Rooney said. “The record has stood for so many years. I’m still relatively young and believe I can do it and hopefully it will come.

“Obviously I’m not going to be as big a legend as Sir Bobby Charlton — he’s won the World Cup with England — so to eclipse that I’d have to win the World Cup, which would be a massive achievement.”

Eleven years on from his substitute appearance in the 3-1 defeat to Australia at Upton Park, Rooney insists he is still as passionate as ever about playing for his country. If anything, his desire has increased because of England’s poor performance in Brazil earlier this year.

“The thing that I’ve taken away from Brazil is the hurt at getting knocked out — it was hard to take,” the former Everton man said. “But we have to move on.

“I have that hunger to do well, I always want to do well. I don’t feel I have to prove myself to anyone. I’m sure everyone can see I’m passionate about playing for England and as much as anyone I want us to do well.”

Meanwhile, Michael Carrick has withdrawn from the England squad with a groin injury.

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