Wayne Rooney says he has no intention of quitting international football despite being dropped by England for Tuesday night’s match away against Slovenia.
The Manchester United forward will be left out for tactical reasons, interim England manager Gareth Southgate confirmed, and Rooney said that there was “no embarrassment” in the decision to start Eric Dier in his place.
“I’ve said before that, if selected, I’m available. I love playing for my country. I made my plans clear. Those plans won’t change,” Rooney said at a news conference on Monday.
“I understand and respect the manager’s decision, and I’ll support the players and be ready to come on if needed. Hopefully we can get three points.
“I show great pride playing for my country, whether that’s from the bench or from the start.”
Rooney, who was booed by sections of the Wembley crowd during England’s 2-0 win against Malta on Saturday, will remain captain of the group, though Jordan Henderson will wear the armband on Tuesday.
Rooney said he was unaware of the jeers from his country’s own fans against Malta.
He said: “To be honest I wasn’t aware of it. I think football nowadays, that’s part of the game, but I wasn’t aware of it on the pitch. I’ve nothing really to say on it.”
Southgate hailed the 30-year-old for how he accepted his decision, while admitting he was annoyed that some people would be happy about Rooney being dropped.
“Not only did he accept the news with great professionalism, but he was keen to speak today,” Southgate said. “On reflection, I think it’s a great opportunity for him to talk about his pride for playing for his country.
“He’s still captain of this team while I’m in charge. Everything I’ve seen this week has only improved the feeling of how impressive he’s been as leader of this group.
“It’s purely a footballing decision. On a human level, it’s a very difficult decision because I don’t like the idea that there are some people very satisfied he’s not in the team.
“I’m probably annoyed more by that than he is because he’s had to deal with that all throughout his career.”
Rooney was also dropped from the Manchester United starting lineup by United for the first time this season when they faced Leicester City on Sept. 24 — and he was also named as a substitute for the next two games against Zorya Luhansk and Stoke City.
Southgate said only his desired midfield tactics for Tuesday’s game factored into his decision.
“It’s very straightforward,” the managers said. “We’ve looked at Slovenia and the way they play and from when I looked at it I’ve had in my mind the profile of the midfield that we wanted to play.”
Southgate added that there were a few candidates for wearing the armband on Tuesday night, but felt Henderson had shown his capabilities as a leader when replacing Steven Gerrard as Liverpool skipper.
“What stood out for me is he’s captained a football club where he had to take over from one of the most iconic figures in English football,” Southgate said. “I think he’s matured from that and I think he’s shown great leadership skills with his club.
“He’s used to being the captain which is also important and within this group of players he’s got a voice and an opinion, very clear ideas of what we need to work on and good tactical understanding.
“It was not an easy decision as there’s other senior players in that dressing room but I think because he’s captained in a big football club it’s the right decision for me. “