Former England captain Gary Lineker believes Wayne Rooney deserves to be recognised as one of the nation’s greatest players. Rooney, 29, will win his 100th cap against Slovenia on Saturday and is the fourth top England goalscorer on 43.
“He has to rank right up there in the pantheon of English football’s finest,” Lineker, who scored 48 goals for England said. “There is no doubt he is a great player.”
Rooney became England’s youngest debutant when he won his first cap at the age of 17 against Australia in February 2003. That record has since broken by Theo Walcott, but Rooney remains the youngest player to start an England international.
Hailed as England’s player of Euro 2004 when he scored four goals before breaking his foot as England lost to Portugal in the quarter-finals, Rooney was criticised for failing to produce at major tournaments and took until his third World Cup to score in the competition.
Lineker said: “It has not quite happened for him in major tournaments for various reasons, barring the first one, where he exploded on to the scene in 2004 and played so well.
“He has very rarely gone to a major tournament in prime condition. On other occasions, the team has not performed that well. “He has scored 40-odd goals for his country and has been a consistent performer. He is brilliant at finding space and dropping deep. He is a good all-round footballer and scores plenty of goals.”