Wayne Rooney: Former England captain John Terry defends Manchester United striker and calls for 'more respect'

Rooney is England’s all-time top goal-scorer but has struggled for both club and country lately

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The Independent Football

John Terry, the former England captain, has leapt to the defence of Wayne Rooney after the Manchester United striker was booed during the 2-0 victory against Malta.

Rooney is England’s all-time top goal-scorer but has struggled for both club and country in recent years and will drop to the bench for Gareth Southgate’s second match in temporary charge of the national team against Slovenia tonight.  

The 30-year-old says there is “no embarrassment” in his predicament and has pledged to earn his way back into the line-up despite the debate about his best position with few able to agree on whether he is a striker or a midfielder in his twilight years. 

Writing on Instagram, Terry, who was forced to retire from international football in 2012, said: “Wayne Rooney, England's highest record goalscorer in the history of our game. Soon to be the most capped player our great country has ever produced.

“One of the very best players I have seen and had the pleasure playing with in my lifetime and a man who has given everything for England.

“An absolute LEGEND at Everton, Man Utd, England and world football. We should all show more respect to this great player and man. Let's all get behind Wayne and the England team tomorrow.”

Speaking in Ljubljana, Southgate insisted Rooney’s long-term future remains with the England set-up while the former Everton academy graduate himself tried to deflect the suggestion that his international career is all but over.

“I've played 13 years non-stop for England and given everything,” Rooney said. “But a time comes when you're not the first name on the team-sheet, like I have been in the past. I've done it 117 times, but of course a time comes where there might be a bit of a change, but all I can do is keep working and turning up, so that I am ready when called upon.

“There is no embarrassment. I show great pride playing for my country. [If] it is from the bench, it is from the bench - nothing has changed in terms of my future. I understand this is part of football. It is something which you have to go through and I am big enough to deal with it.

“Of course, I do [believe I can come back from this]. I am 30 years of age, I am not 35 or 36 where you are thinking: 'Can you get back from it?' I will just keep working. I have said before that I will not stop playing for England and then think of going to Dubai for a few days in the international break. I will turn up when called upon and be ready.”