Rooney will never play for England again

LONDON, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- England's record-holding goal scorer Wayne Rooney announced his retirement Wednesday from international football.

      His announcement came after manager Graham Southgate told him he wanted him for the England team to meet Malta and Slovakia next month.

      Rooney has recently joined his first club, Everton, after a glittering career at Manchester United where he earned the title of top goal scorer.

      He has scored two goals in his first two outings for Everton, where fans have given Rooney a hero's welcome to his home city of Liverpool. He also saw his weekly salary cut in half.

      Rooney, aged 31, earned 119 international caps for England, scoring 53 goals but he said in a statement Wednesday: "Every time I was selected was a real privilege but I believe now is the time to bow out."

      Rooney made his major international debut as an 18-year-old at Euro 2004 and last played for England, wearing the captain's armband, last November when England beat Scotland 3-0 at Wembley.

      Since returning to Goodison Park, Rooney has said in media interviews that he planned to focus on Everton rather than an international recall.

      In his statement Rooney said: "It was great Gareth Southgate called me this week to tell me he wanted me back in the England squad for the upcoming matches. I really appreciated that.

      "However, having already thought long and hard, I told Gareth that I had now decided to retire for good from international football.

      "It is a really tough decision and one I have discussed with my family, my manager at Everton and those closest to me.

      "Playing for England has always been special to me. Every time I was selected as a player or captain was a real privilege and I thank everyone who helped me. But I believe now is the time to bow out.

      "Leaving Manchester United was a tough call but I know I made the right decision in coming home to Everton. Now I want to focus all my energies on helping them be successful.

      "I will always remain a passionate England fan. One of my very few regrets is not to have been part of a successful England tournament side. Hopefully the exciting players Gareth is bringing through can take that ambition further and I hope everyone will get behind the team.

      "One day the dream will come true and I look forward to being there as a fan - or in any capacity."

      Media reports said that Rooney saw his weekly salary at Manchester of around 385,000 U.S.dollars a week, cut in half to just over 192,000 U.S. dollars a week when he made the 55 kilometer move from Manchester to Everton.

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