Ryan Giggs has backed the shock England return of former Manchester United colleague Wayne Rooney by applauding it as an opportunity to recognise an “iconic player”.
The 33-year-old Rooney, now playing in Major League Soccer with DC United, has not played for England in almost two years.
But Rooney will come out of international retirement for the Wembley friendly against the United States on November 15 to make his 120th and final senior appearance in an England shirt.
Rooney’s return has provoked a fierce debate on social media, with some describing it as a fitting send-off for England’s record goalscorer and others saying it cheapens the winning of caps and makes a mockery of international football.
“I understand it. It’s a celebration game against America and I’m all for it,” said Wales manager Giggs, who spent a decade playing alongside Rooney and also later coached him at Old Trafford.
“In football, and in sport in general, people are not recognised or recognised too late. This is a chance for not only a great player, but an iconic player and top goalscorer.
“He’s gone ahead of Gary Lineker and Bobby Charlton, over 50 goals. It gives him a chance to thank the fans for all the support, and the fans to thank him for all the work he’s done over the years.
“I understand people have got different opinions but, from knowing Wayne and what he’s done for England, I don’t see any problem with it.”
Rooney turned 33 last month and at the weekend ruled out a loan deal to a Premier League club once the MLS season has concluded – even though David Beckham and Frank Lampard returned to play in Europe during the MLS’ off-season.
“It looks like he’s enjoying it out there,” Giggs said.
“I saw one of the goals he made when he chased back, slide tackled and crossed. That is brilliant to see.
“He’ll always score goals because he is a goalscorer. I think he’s got 12 goals in 20 games, and it looks as if he’s really enjoying life in America.
“He’s a footballer who’ll want to play for as long as he can, I know that. But whether the body can take it up to 40 we’ll have to wait and see.”