BURTON, England — Wayne Rooney admits it will be hard to control his emotions when he returns for a farewell appearance for England at Wembley.
The D.C. United forward will win his 120th England cap on Thursday in his first appearance since announcing his retirement two years ago, in the friendly with the United States at Wembley.
Rooney, 33, is England’s all-time leading scorer with 53 goals and admitted it was a big moment when he broke the record with a penalty against Switzerland in September 2015.
“I’m not normally one to show my emotions that way, but when I scored the penalty against Switzerland it was hard to hold my emotions back,” he told a news conference. “There will be emotions inside. If they show on the outside, they will.”
With opinion divided over the decision to recall Rooney, the former Everton and Manchester United striker admitted he had nerves meeting up with the rest of the squad.
“It was a strange feeling,” he said. “I don’t know if that was nerves or what. It was different to what I’d normally do when I met up. Everyone gave me a nice welcome.
“It will be great to walk into the dressing room and see my shirt hanging up again, and to have that last run out.”
Rooney’s last appearance for England came in November 2016 with Gareth Southgate leaving him out of subsequent squads before he announced his retirement from the national team.
England then went on to have their best performance at a major tournament in 28 years last summer when they reached the semifinals of the World Cup.
Rooney was part of the so-called “Golden Generation” that under-performed at international level and he believes that he often put himself under too much pressure.
“We all tried to be successful — maybe we didn’t have the squad,” he said. “We had a very good starting XI, but maybe not that backup in a tournament if someone got injured or suspended to take the place of one of those players. But we tried. We were unlucky, going out on penalties.
“I think partly to do with there being a pressure on myself which, obviously, when you’re in that mode you don’t want to admit there is pressure to perform. I’ve stepped back from that now and can analyse it that there was that pressure.
“Also that pressure on the team, and having that makes you try too hard and makes you a bit too anxious, so you don’t enjoy it as much as you should. You play your best football and best performances when you’re enjoying playing and winning.
“I’m going to enjoy the game on Thursday, the minutes I get on the pitch. I think it’s a special moment for myself, for my family — my youngest boy has never had the opportunity to see me in an England shirt.”