England captain Wayne Rooney has spoken of his love of playing for his country after confirming he intends to quit the international scene following the 2018 World Cup.
The 30-year-old Manchester United forward has retained the England captaincy under new manager Sam Allardyce and will now look to lead the Three Lions to the finals in Russia in two years.
Rooney will lead England out in their first World Cup qualifier in Slovakia on Sunday but admitted he expects this to be his last international campaign.
“I have had a fantastic international career so far, played a lot of games and enjoyed every minute but at some point it is going to come to an end,” he said.
“I’m not old, I’m 30 years of age, and come Russia I feel that will be the time for me to say goodbye to international football.
“My mind is made up but it is up to Sam Allardyce again over the next two years but, if selected, I will have enjoyed it, some highs, some lows but I’ll be an immensely proud man.”
Rooney was the captain under Roy Hodgson as England qualified for Euro 2016 with a 100 per cent record before being knocked out of the tournament against Iceland at the round of 16 stage.
During qualification, Rooney became England’s all-time leading goalscorer but he was left disappointed following the poor showing at the finals in France – although he had already made his decision to stay on with England, despite the likes of Alan Shearer calling for him to retire.
“Right after the tournament, with all the questions on whether I should stop playing, I said I wanted to continue,” he said.
“It is something I love doing and I made that aware to Sam when he got the job. I’m looking forward to getting back on the pitch, (there are) bad memories from the last game for England so it will be nice to get back playing.
“Realistically I know myself that Russia will be my last opportunity to do anything with England so I’m going to try and enjoy these two years and hopefully I can end my career with England on a high.”
Rooney has been playing in his preferred number 10 role at Manchester United under Jose Mourinho and Allardyce has suggested he will deploy his skipper in the same position for England.
And the former Everton youngster has said he will be available to Allardyce for the foreseeable future, even if he has set his own date to step down.
“I said I’m available for selection,” added Rooney.
“It wasn’t me saying I’m going to continue because that is what I want to do, I said if selected, I’m available.
“I made my mind up before the Euros, whether we did well or didn’t do well, that I would continue after the tournament.
“Since then and on holiday and back at Manchester United I have not had much to think about.
“I’m pleased the manager has come in, put me in the squad and given me the opportunity as captain.
“I think it is still two years away but I started playing football professionally when I was 16, international football when I was 17 so 15 years of international football is a lot of years and in my eyes I think that would be the right time to finish.”