Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney lead the Three Lions through a disappointing Euro 2016 campaign, as the historical giants exited with a historically poor performance against Iceland. Though the win was marvelous to see for neutral fans, and life-changing for the citizens of Iceland, England knew at that point that they had become a footballing nation in turmoil. As Roy Hodgson resigned, there was a mix of disappointment and relief from the nation of England, but Rooney claimed that the future will be brighter for England in the years to come.
While admitting that England’s Euro campaign was nothing more than embarrassing, Rooney urged England fans to remain calm and look at the positives. Remarking the positives that are coming through with the youth system in English football, Rooney stated his belief that England simply didn’t click over the course of the Euros.
“It’s sad, he’s [Hodgson] brought a lot of young players through. I think the future is bright for England. Unfortunately it hasn’t happened in this tournament but hopefully, in the future, there are good things to come and although it’s difficult to say and to see that now, I think Roy has been good to the players and we thank him.”
Rooney made his disappointment clear at the fact England conceded to one of Iceland’s greatest, most obvious strengths; long throws. He also credited Iceland’s defensive organization in the second half as England began to chase the game. Though Rooney says his teammates believed they could still win the game at half-time, the United captain noted that Iceland made it incredibly difficult for England to find any space at all.
“We’re disappointed, sad, gutted after getting such a good start. We were disappointed we went in at half time 2-1 down with the manner we conceded the goals – we knew they were a threat from long throws. We didn’t defend the second goal well enough but we were confident at half-time we could still win the game. We pushed but Iceland defended well, they were organised and made it tough for us and in the final third we didn’t have that bit of brilliance to get us the goal. We understand they’re disappointed and angry because what they’ve seen tonight wasn’t good enough and it’s embarrassing to go out but that’s football. We tried, we gave everything and unfortunately it wasn’t enough.”
Many in England believe that Rooney should be the one to save England with the bright, special flair and brilliance he once had. Earning his 115th cap for England in their final Euro match, Rooney tied David Beckham’s record for most appearances ever made by an England outfielder. It takes a special player to do that, but Rooney isn’t that anymore and maybe it’s time for him to move on. Rooney said he won’t be moving on anytime soon, but maybe he hasn’t realized he could be holding back all the youth he spoke about early in the interview.
“I’ve said many times I enjoy and am proud to play for England and am interested to see who the next manager is and if selected then I’ll certainly be there.”
Rooney had an illustrious career for both club and country, but it seems to be reaching its twilight. England’s top scorer was particularly poor against Iceland, though he did score England’s only goal from the penalty spot. Fans of football around the world will be hoping Rooney still has something to offer, because, much like Lionel Messi, who retired from international football at the start of the week, Rooney at his best is a once-in-a-generation breed of player.