Wayne Rooney said his farewell international would be a game he’d “remember for a long time”, after England beat the USA at Wembley last night.
The former Everton and Manchester United star’s selection, for his 120th and final cap, two years after he last played for the Three Lions, had caused controversy.
But a crowd of over 68,000 were at Wembley to say farewell to England’s record goalscorer, who now plays in America.
Rooney was the focus from the outset and was joined by his four boys before kick-off as he received a guard of honour from both sets of players – a heartwarming moment followed by a stirring England start.
Rooney said: “It went as I imagined it, really.
“Being around the players has been great; seeing how they’re working and how they’re improving has been great for me.
“I’ve done my personal thank yous but I want to thank the FA and Gareth (Southgate) for giving me this opportunity, and the players.
“Tonight was a great way to finish off my international career, the lads played brilliant, it was a great game, unfortunately I couldn’t get a goal – nearly – but it was something I’ll remember for a long time.”
On the field, the side was initially captained by former Leeds United midfielder Fabian Delph, while Rooney – who took the armband from Delph – got a first-hand glimpse of the future as debutant Callum Wilson completed a comfortable win for Southgate’s experimental side against the United States.
Rooney received a warm reception before and after coming on for England, who prepared for Sunday’s crunch Nations League clash with Croatia by winning 3-0 thanks to goals from Jesse Lingard, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Wilson.
The latter wrapped up victory on a night that also saw Lewis Dunk and former Leeds United loanee Alex McCarthy make their international bows, with 18-year-old Jadon Sancho handed his first start as the Three Lions looked to the future while also paying tribute to one of their greatest players.
Rooney received a standing ovation when brought on in the 58th minute of a match that Southgate’s men were already in control of thanks to a fine Lingard effort and Alexander-Arnold’s first goal for his country.
There was to be no fairytale farewell goal for the 33-year-old, but he was first to celebrate with Wilson after the debutant scored the third.
His appearance in this friendly may have split opinion in the build-up, but there can be no doubt that the support for the Wayne Rooney Foundation and chance for fans to say thanks was only positive.
Leeds United pair Bailey Peacock-Farrell and Stuart Dallas played the full 90 minutes as Nothern Ireland drew 0-0 with hosts the Republic of Ireland in a friendly in Dublin last night.
Dallas, playing in a more advanced role than he does for Leeds, caught the eye for Michael O’Neill’s side going close a couple of times and creating a great chance for Gavin Whyte early on.
Peacock-Farrell will have been pleased to keep a clean sheet after coming under fire following Leeds’ 4-1 defeat at West Bromwich Albion.
United midfielder Mateus Klich featured for the full game for Poland in their 1-0 friendly home defeat by the Czech Republic.