Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney is adamant that he can continue to play at the top level for a number of years.
Rooney has come under consistent criticism this season, having had the worst six months of his career until January 2016. Despite leading United as captain for the second consecutive season, Rooney certainly did not lead by example but manager Louis van Gaal continued to have faith in him. It didn’t pay off for some time, until January and February where Rooney contributed to 10 goals in nine games.
A flick against Swansea City in his first game fo 2016 saw him regain confidence but his form was halted abruptly by an injury against Sunderland. It ruled him out of England’s recent friendlies ahead of this summer’s European Championships in France.
His place in the England squad, let alone starting eleven, has been questioned in recent weeks, but he has insisted that he can continue playing for Euro 2016, and many years after that.
Rooney feels he has “still got a few years left.” Speaking to the PFA’s 4 The Player magazine, he said he’ll “keep trying to, first and foremost, help the team [England] be successful.”
“If I can score the goals to help achieve that, then that’ll be great.” Rooney’s tournament record with England is appalling. He scored his first ever World Cup in 2014, having played at two previously, and has not had a significant impact on a tournament since breaking through as a teenager in Euro 2004.
There would some symmetry if he was to now have an excellent tournament in France, having become captain and now overseeing multiple young talents like Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling.
Rooney broke Sir Bobby Charlton’s 40-year-long record for the most goals for England ever, scoring his 50th with a penalty against Switzerland in September.
He said “over the last two years, [his] form for England has been really good.” In qualifies for the Euros, he has been vital, alongside former-Manchester United teammate Danny Welbeck.
However, he still comes under huge criticism, even after breaking Charlton’s record. “To be the one to break it means a lot,” Rooney said. “And then for Sir Bobby to present me with the award as well, that makes it even more special.”
Rooney was adamant that he will not rest on his laurels, however. He said that he’s “looking to expand [on the record] now” and he justs wants “to carry on scoring as many goals as I can.”
England fans, who have been told by manager Roy Hodgson that there is no doubt of Rooney’s place in the squad, will be hoping Rooney can replicate the form he was beginning to pick up before he suffered an injury with United.
Rooney himself says “I was playing really well before that injury so it could’ve been different, but that’s in the past and you have to look forward.”
He describes himself as a “different player” to previously, and says instead of comparing himself to Euro 2004 and other highlights, he is “always just thinking about what comes next” in order to make sure he is at his best for the summer.