Wayne Rooney is a “special player”, says Jermain Defoe, with the Manchester United legend deserving of one last outing for England.
The Football Association’s decision to recall the 33-year-old D.C. United forward to the Three Lions fold for a friendly clash with the United States has received a mixed response.
Former internationals such as Peter Shilton and Alan Shearer have questioned the call, with the latter suggesting that Rooney is being granted “a testimonial” in which to earn a 120th cap.
Defoe, though, believes that England’s all-time leading goalscorer will benefit Gareth Southgate’s squad by taking in a final appearance for his country, with his vast experience set to rub off on a young squad ready to embrace the presence of a modern day icon.
A man with 57 caps to his name told Sky Sports on the decision to bring Rooney out of international retirement for a game which will help to generate funds for his charitable foundation: "What a guy and what a player.
"What he has done throughout his career, for club and country, he has been a special player since day one when he burst onto the scene at Everton.
"I think it will be a really special moment. I would like to go to see it because away from the football side, he is such a nice guy.
"I spent a lot of time with him with England, getting to know him, and he's a lovely man. He deserves everything he gets.
"Knowing Wayne, he'll go back into that squad a little bit nervous. He will want to impress people in training, that's what he is like, he loves his football.
"The boys will love to see him and if I was one of those young forwards, I would be thinking 'if I can achieve even half [of what Rooney has achieved], then it's special'.
"With players like that, you have to be a sponge, you have to think 'I am going to get a little bit from that'."
Rooney, who already sits second on the list of all-time leading appearance makers for England, will see one more outing move him to within five of Shilton at the top of that particular chart.
He will also get the chance to add to his tally of 53 international goals, with those efforts having made him the only man to pass a half-century of strikes for the Three Lions.