San Marino 0 England 6: I only expected an hour says Rooney

Wayne Rooney scores against San Marino.
Wayne Rooney scores against San Marino.
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Wayne Rooney holds nothing against Roy Hodgson after the manager deprived him of a chance to break Sir Bobby Charlton’s England scoring record in San Marino on Saturday.

Rooney scored a 12th-minute penalty to set the Three Lions on their way to a 6-0 win that secured their qualification for Euro 2016.

The spot-kick was a momentous achievement for Rooney as it brought him level with England’s all-time record goalscorer Charlton, who is one of the captain’s heroes.

Had he not been substituted in the 58th minute, the Manchester United striker would have stood a good chance of scoring a record-breaking 50th goal against the European minnows, who are ranked 193rd in the world.

But Rooney felt the withdrawal made sense with England’s next qualifier against Switzerland taking place just 72 hours later.

“No. To be honest I knew that the most I was going to play was an hour,” Rooney said when asked if he thought he had been taken off too early.

“There is a game coming up on Tuesday.

“It was a good opportunity for the manager to get a few players on the pitch, so whether I had scored one or three, the most I was going to play was an hour.

“I was just happy to get the goal and the win.”

The fact that his 49th goal was somewhat fortuitous and came against a team containing an accountant, a banking clerk and a ceramics shop worker did not matter to Rooney.

Moving level with England’s World Cup-winning forward, who scored his goals in 106 matches was a source of great pride for the fellow Red Devils man.

“It’s a proud moment,” the 29-year-old said.

“To be there sitting at the top with him in terms of goals is a great achievement and something I’m very proud of.

“Obviously I feel like I’ve got a lot of time left to go on and be the leading scorer but it’s just a huge moment for me.”

Rooney was as perplexed as the rest of the people in the Stadio Olimpico in Serravalle as to why the penalty was awarded.

At first sight it looked like Leontios Trattou had blown for a push by Marco Berardi on the England captain as James Milner swung his free-kick into the box. But afterwards San Marino coach Pierangelo Manzaroli said he thought the Cypriot had incorrectly witnessed a handball by one of the home players.

“I have no idea (why it was given),” Rooney said with a chuckle.

“I ran to the front post and something happened behind me, the referee pointed to the spot. I took it and scored.”

Talk of Rooney’s potential to break the record has followed him throughout the qualification campaign, so the former Everton forward was glad to have netted his 49th goal.

He did admit to having last-minute fears about slipping on the recently laid dry surface, however.

“It was a relief to score because of the pitch,” he said.

“It was a bit weird because I knew the pitch wasn’t great so I had to straighten my run-up a bit for the penalty, so I didn’t slip, and thankfully it went in.”

Being a team player, former Everton player Rooney was keen to speak about qualification as much as his own landmark.

“It’s a great achievement,” said Rooney, who has captained England in all seven of their qualifying wins.

“Qualifying was our aim after a disappointing World Cup and we have won every game. Slovenia and Switzerland away are difficult ties, and we have come through every one.”