Lineker: Rooney one of England’s best-ever

Former England striker Gary Lineker believes current Three Lions front man and captain Wayne Rooney deserves to be considered as one of the country’s greatest ever players, as he reaches the 100-cap landmark, BBC Sport has reported.

Lineker, who now fronts the BBC’s football coverage, is England’s second-highest goal scorer in history, behind only Sir Bobby Charlton. Lineker netted 48 times in 80 appearances to Charlton’s 49 in 106, while Rooney has 43 goals in his 99 games. Rooney is fourth in the all-time list, with Jimmy Greaves between the Manchester United forward and Lineker.

“He has to rank right up there in the pantheon of English football’s finest,” Lineker said. “He has scored 40-odd goals for his country and has been a consistent performer. He has been a massive scorer for England, particularly in qualifying games.”

Lineker added that while Rooney has often struggled at international tournaments, it doesn’t damage his legacy for the national team and can easily be explained. “It has not quite happened for him in major tournaments for various reasons, barring the first one, where he exploded on to the scene in 2004 and played so well,” Lineker noted.

“He has very rarely gone to a major tournament in prime condition,” the former Leicester, Everton, Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur striker continued. “On other occasions the team has not performed that well.

“There is no doubt he is a great player. He is brilliant at finding space and dropping deep. He is a good all-round footballer and scores plenty of goals.”

Rooney made his England debut in 2003, against Australia, becoming at the time the country’s youngest-ever senior international. The record has since been broken by Theo Walcott, while Rooney was appointed captain of club and country ahead of the current season.

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