Wayne Rooney announced his retirement from international football on Thursday after scoring 53 goals in 119 appearances for the Three Lions.
The former Manchester United captain turned down a chance to join Gareth Southgate’s squad to face Malta and Slovakia. “Every time I was selected was a real privilege but I believe now is the time to bow out,” said Rooney.
Everton boss Ronald Koeman believes this will only benefit Rooney in the long season that lies ahead for the club. The Merseysiders are involved in the UEFA Europa league this season, add that to the domestic cups and tournaments, Koeman’s men face the prospect of playing more than sixty games in this campaign.
“It’s a good decision for him and Everton,” said Koeman. “Wayne spoke to me about this, he had a talk with the national coach and he made his decision. He thinks it’s the best for Everton.”
The Dutchman was quick to dispel any notions whether he influenced Rooney in any way to make this decision.
“I didn’t give him advice. I’m not the right person in his decision. There’s always the decision by the player and of course I respect that.
“Of course, if we reach the group stage of the Europa League there’s international duty on top, then that’s really a tough programme.
“But his fitness is really good and it’s always up to the player to decide what is best to do. I would have respected it if he had made a different decision. Now it means he can have some days off during the international breaks.”
Rooney finished his international career as England’s all time top scorer and highest capped outfield player, falling six short of Peter Shilton’s record.
“I don’t know if he was tempted by the record. What he did for the national team was good enough. There is a time to come and a time to go. He made that decision,” added Koeman.
“It’s all about your feeling and when you need to stop football. Your body is the main reason to say stop.”
Rooney’s last appearance for the Three Lions was as captain in the 3-0 win over Scotland in November last year. The 31-year-old has been in fine form since returning to his boyhood club scoring two goals in the opening two games of the Premier League.
Koeman would be hoping Rooney’s form continues when Everton travel to Croatia to play Hajduk Split in the second leg of the Europa League play-off on Thursday. The Toffees lead by two goals from the first leg.