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Everton striker Wayne Rooney has announced his retirement from international football.
England manager Gareth Southgate called Rooney to discuss the 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovakia at the start of September.
But rather than join the Three Lions for the matches, Rooney told Southgate he is ending his 14-year involvement with the senior team.
“It was great that Gareth Southgate called me this week to tell me he wanted me back in the England squad for the upcoming matches.
“However, having already thought long and hard, I told Gareth that I had now decided to retire for good from international football.
“It is a really tough decision and one I have discussed with my family, my manager at Everton, and those closest to me. Playing for England has always been special to me. Every time I was selected as a player or captain was a real privilege and I thank everyone who helped me. But I believe now is the time to bow out.”
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Rooney left Manchester United to re-join his boyhood club Everton in July and now, aged 31, wants to focus solely on club football.
“Leaving Manchester United was a tough call but I know I made the right decision in coming home to Everton. Now I want to focus all my energies on helping them be successful,” he said.
The striker made his England debut in 2003. He went on to win 119 caps and become England’s all-time leading goalscorer with 53 goals.
He was named in the UEFA Euro 2004 Team of the Tournament after scoring four goals in the competition. However, he regrets not lifting a trophy in an England shirt. He said:
“I will always remain a passionate England fan. One of my very few regrets is not to have been part of a successful England tournament side.
“Hopefully the exciting players Gareth is bringing through can take that ambition further and I hope everyone will get behind the team. One day the dream will come true and I look forward to being there as a fan – or in any capacity.”