100-cap Rooney faces England legacy questions

AFP, Friday 14 Nov 2014

England's Wayne Rooney (Photo: Reuters)

Wayne Rooney will make his 100th England appearance on Saturday when Roy Hodgson's side attempt to extend their 100 percent record in Euro 2016 qualifying at home to Slovenia.

The Manchester United striker, 29, will lead the team out at Wembley Stadium accompanied by his two young sons, Kai and Klay, as he becomes the ninth England player to take his number of caps into three figures.

Rooney is on course to break former goalkeeper Peter Shilton's 125-cap appearance record and is also only six goals short of Bobby Charlton's England scoring record of 49 goals.

But having failed to shine for England at a major tournament since making his breakthrough at Euro 2004, he accepts he still has to prove himself worthy of comparison with World Cup winners such as Charlton.

"To get 100 caps for England, there's not many players who have done it," Rooney writes in the programme for Saturday's match.

"It would be a great achievement. I'll be proud to join that club and it is something that myself and my family would be honoured by.

"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 sometime soon we can achieve that."

He adds: "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."

Milestone for Cesar

After their group-phase exit at the World Cup, England have taken control of Group E by winning their first three games without conceding a goal and will be looking to record a record-equalling sixth clean sheet.

With Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge still sidelined by a calf problem, Arsenal forward Danny Welbeck is expected to hold on to his place up front alongside former United colleague Rooney.

Raheem Sterling is in line for a recall at the tip of Hodgson's midfield diamond, having contentiously started last month's 1-0 win in Estonia on the bench after reportedly complaining of fatigue.

Arsenal winger Theo Walcott and 20-year-old Everton playmaker Ross Barkley are both back in the squad after spells on the sidelines, while West Bromwich Albion striker Saido Berahino will hope to win his first cap.

Michael Carrick and Andros Townsend have been forced to withdraw from the squad due to injury, but both players were more likely to have featured in England's friendly with Scotland in Glasgow on Tuesday anyway.

Rooney's Slovenia counterpart, visiting captain Bostjan Cesar, will also be celebrating a milestone as he stands to win his 81st cap, which will see him surpass Zlatko Zahovic as his country's most-capped player.

The Chievo centre-back was injured by a tackle from Rooney when Slovenia last visited Wembley, in September 2009, and the 32-year-old says that he has not forgotten the incident.

"My memories aren't the nicest. It wasn't nice, what he did," said Cesar. "But I'm not interested in Rooney; I'm interested in the match and our desire to avenge our two defeats against England."

After a 1-0 loss in Estonia in their opening game, Srecko Katanec's side won 1-0 at home to Switzerland and then recorded a 2-0 victory away to Lithuania, leaving them in second place in the group.

Talented Salzburg forward Kevin Kampl is a doubt due to injury, but 35-year-old striker Milivoje Novakovic is fit to lead the line and will look to add to his three goals in qualifying to date.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

Search Keywords:
Short link: