Wayne Rooney admits England’s 2-1 defeat to Iceland is embarrassing but insists he is not retiring from international football.
Roy Hodgson resigned immediately after England were knocked out of Euro 2016 at the hands of minnows Iceland and the players were distraught on the field afterwards in what is roundly considered one of the worst results in the history of English football.
Having failed to build any consistency following the group stage draws against Russia, Slovakia and a victory over Wales, England entered the match-up against Iceland in a cautiously optimistic mood given the standard of their opponents and the fact that they had never reached a major tournament let alone a last 16 knockout tie.
Despite going ahead, England conceded two in a short space of time and never recovered in what Rooney had previously described as a must-win game.
“It is a hard one to take, it is embarrassing. We know we are a better team,” he said.
“I said before the tournament and I’ve been asked many times but I’m proud to play for England and I’ll see who the next manager is and, if selected, I’m available to play.
“It is hard to see it now but the future is bright. It will take a bit of time I’m sure but we have to try to dust it off as quick as we can and try to move on.”
Hodgson did the honourable thing in accepting a large part of the blame for the defeat in his resignation but the football world awaits further retirements following a low point in England’s footballing history and with two years until World Cup 2018.
Rooney is undergoing a late-stage evolution in his play and was deployed as a deep midfield role throughout the tournament. It remains to be seen whether he has what it takes to develop in such a role and Jose Mourinho will have to decide what to do with the ageing Man United captain.
The signing of Henrikh Mkhitaryan does not bode well for Rooney as the Armenian promises plenty of creativity and goals from a position Rooney once occupied forcefully in Man United’s line-up. The 30-year-old will have to work extremely hard if he wants to replicate Paul Scholes in United’s central midfield and whether or not he is up to the task remains to be seen.