The phrase, “It’s been an interesting few months for Wayne Rooney”, traditionally carries many unsavoury connotations, most frequently relating to his drinking, partying or romancing of the elderly. But, this time we can definitely use it in an exclusively footballing context.
Back in June, Rooney left his boyhood club Everton for the second time and headed Stateside to join DC United.
At the time his new club were rooted to the bottom of the Eastern Conference with three months of the MLS season gone, but that all changed after his arrival. He was made club captain after just three games and his haul of 12 goals plus seven assists single-handedly dragged United into the play-offs.
Although it wasn’t to be a fairytale debut campaign for Rooney: he missed a penalty in last week’s shootout against Columbus Crew as DC exited in the first round.
England’s most capped outfield player and record goalscorer has had little time to dwell on that, however, with the news he will be coming out of international retirement to make a farewell appearance against the United States at Wembley next week.
The match – which has been named the Wayne Rooney Foundation International – is designed to help the former England skipper launch his new charity whilst bidding a final farewell to his international career.
Amid all the hyperbole surrounding the recall and its supposed impact on the value of England caps (does anyone really care?), the news got us thinking.
Who else would we like to see step out on the hallowed Wembley turf with Three Lions on their chest one last time?
We had a few thoughts…
Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville
Who else could we start with?
The Sky Sports duo – who are now just as famous for their bickering on Monday Night Football whilst standing behind a giant iPad as they are for their on-field careers – would take their rivalry to a new level if they returned to the England team once again.
They’d be desperate to outperform each other or, failing that, will simply settle things once and for all with some fisticuffs, Bowyer/Dyer style.
Either way, it’d make for unmissable viewing – so long as Sky could get adequate pundits to replace them. Anyone apart from Paul Merson, basically.
Since hanging up his boots, Campbell has filled his days posting bizarre videos on social media and getting stuck into politics. He’s regularly voiced his opinion on party policies, the FA’s management and in 2016 ran in vain to become the Conservatives’ candidate for Mayor of London.
What a well-timed publicity boost a one-off England appearance would be to Campbell’s fledgling new career.
Sadly, it would come too late for Brexit – just imagine how much better off we’d be if we had a man of his eloquent stature around the negotiating table.
On the flip side, the UK will probably be looking for a new Prime Minister soon.
You never know…
No, this wouldn’t be to see if he could roll back the years. It wouldn’t be to see if he could act as a mentor to the new generation.
It wouldn’t be to see if he can fine-tune his man management skills in a player-coach role.
It would solely be to see the reaction on Gareth Southgate’s face when he’s asked about matchday pressures in the pre-match press conference, only for Gerrard to step in and answer on his behalf.
The original Everton wonderkid never fulfilled his potential after an £8m move to Arsenal in 2001, yet still managed to write his name in England folklore.
Fittingly making his one and only international appearance in Wayne Rooney’s debut game, Jeffers scored England’s consolation goal in a 3-1 defeat to Australia. Ah, how we miss those heady nights.
It means Jeffers is one of an elite group of players to have scored in 100% of his international appearances (don’t worry Dave Nugent, we haven’t forgotten you either), which is no mean feat.
Imagine what could’ve happened this summer if England had a truly lethal finisher like Jeffers leading the line?
Surely, it’s worth giving him another crack to see if he can at least make it two in two, right?
Every football fan deserves to see the robot busted out on the international stage one last time. And we’d give Crouchy as many games as he needed to do it.
Of course, we couldn’t let this opportunity pass by without a wish for full-time waistcoat model (and England manager) Gareth Southgate. He’s the man who made the nation believe again in the summer, being rewarded with a new contract taking him up to the 2022 World Cup.
Naturally, that means he’ll be leading the Three Lions at Euro 2020 – a tournament which sees Wembley hosting the semi-finals and final.
There would be no finer way for Southgate to exorcise the demons of that Euro 96 penalty miss than by registering himself as a player for the tournament and smashing one in should these semi-finals go to a shootout as well.
Gareth Southgate, the whole of England would be with you. Just not those who think you should be handing out international caps willy-nilly.