Jamie Carragher has backed Wayne Rooney’s call to retire from England duty and believes it is a “great decision” for all parties.
The Everton forward announced his international retirement on Wednesday and ends his England career as his country’s record goalscorer with 53 goals from 119 caps.
Rooney, 31, will now focus on Everton having re-joined his boyhood club from Manchester United.
Carragher believes the decision could help prolong Rooney’s career – a positive for the player and Everton – and also helps England manager Gareth Southgate plan for the 2018 World Cup.
When asked by Sky Sports if Rooney has made the right call, Carragher said: “I think so, I think he has been quite good making this announcement.
“It probably stops all the questions to himself – ones we possibly started on Monday Night Football – and to manager Gareth Southgate. I also think it is great for Everton as well.
“He has gone back to Everton and I’m sure over the next two or three years he will want to make a big mark there in terms of helping Everton challenge for the top four and maybe winning a trophy or two. This gives them a great opportunity to do that.
“I made the same decision around that age and the two-week international break gives you a great chance to recharge your batteries and be fully ready to go again when Everton come back.
“I think we have all been delighted with the start Rooney has made in the Premier League [two goals in two Everton appearances]. Over the last couple of years he has had a bit of criticism and been written off at different times, which was nonsense, most of it.
“It’s been a great start at Everton and the way to keep that going is to have breaks, there are two or three before Christmas and one afterwards.
“But it is not just the international breaks. It is also having a proper summer off and coming back fresh the following season.
“I think it’s a great decision for everyone, even England really. They have got younger players coming through with Southgate heading towards the World Cup. He gets to mould his own team and I think it works for everyone.”
As well as being England’s record goalscorer, Rooney also holds the record for most caps for an outfield player with 119.
Carragher added: “There’s no doubt he has been one of, if not the best England player of his generation. Maybe Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard would also be in that group but he is England’s top goalscorer.
“In his time England have not had a great tournament that you could look back on in the way that England players of Euro 96 or the World Cup in 1990 can.
“That has been missing for Wayne but that comes from all of us who were involved over that time. We didn’t do enough as a squad.
“If you are judging Rooney individually, his record is virtually one goal in two games.
“I think he would have liked to have done more in tournaments in terms of scoring goals, but I think it will be a long time before we have somebody else who breaks that goalscoring record.
“Harry Kane could possibly have his eye on the Premier League record and Wayne’s record but it is not easy.
“Kane has made a great start but there’s a long way to go to get to Alan Shearer [Premier League record goalscorer] and Rooney. There’s no doubt he’s a top player so I’m sure come the end of his career he will be there or thereabouts.”
Despite his impressive scoring record, Rooney managed just one goal in 11 World Cup appearances but Carragher believes England’s failure at major tournaments was largely a collective problem.
“You play friendly and qualifying games and the whole build-up is to get to tournaments and deliver,” Carragher continued.
“That’s as a squad, not just Wayne, and I was involved in a couple of those tournaments. We never delivered what we should have done really. The unfortunate thing is it could be a long time before England have the players of that quality again.
“Wayne also had a few injury problems going into some tournaments and I don’t think he was ever 100 per cent flying. Sometimes that happens, it is all about timing. A tournament every two years comes down to fitness and form and I think at times it came at the wrong time for Wayne.”