Manchester United star Wayne Rooney says he ready to fight to prove his best days for England are not behind him as youngsters push for a place in Euro squad
London: Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney is facing the biggest fight of his 13 year international career to hold onto his England place going into the European Championships.
Man United's Wayne Rooney gestures during the EPL match vs Norwich City at Carrow Road in Norwich on Sunday. Pic/Getty Images
England's talisman ever since he burst onto the scene as a preternaturally gifted 18-year-old at Euro 2004, Rooney has gone to five major tournaments as one of the first names on the team-sheet.
But competition from emerging stars such as Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, coupled with doubts about his own form and fitness, mean that England's all-time record goal-scorer is no longer an automatic pick. "As I've said throughout my career with Manchester United and England, I never take my place for granted," Rooney said.
'Want to win trophies'
"First of all I want England to be successful and win trophies, and obviously it is great if I can be a part of that." The current campaign has already been a historic one for Rooney, who broke Bobby Charlton's 35-year-old England scoring record in October and now has 51 international goals to his name.
He has also moved onto 109 caps, behind only Peter Shilton (125), David Beckham (115) and Steven Gerrard (114) in England's all-time ranking.
But he has performed fitfully for United and saw a brief return to form abruptly curtailed in February when he was sidelined by a knee injury. In his absence, England recorded a rousing 3-2 win over world champions Germany in Berlin.
Dele Alli and Ross Barkley have encroached onto Rooney's territory as chief creator and there are also doubts about his ability to press with the same intensity as his younger rivals.
No more a force
While Rooney remains one of the world's most famous players, he is no longer the game-changing force of nature. With United, who he joined from Everton in 2004, he has won almost everything, including five Premier League titles, two League Cups and the 2008 Champions League.
He is also the club's second-highest goal scorer and has Charlton's United record of 249 goals in his sights. His goals include some unforgettable strikes, including a stunning overhead kick against Manchester City in 2011.
But with Kane and Vardy the new darlings of the English game, the former Boy Wonder must prove in France that his best days in an England shirt are not behind him.