Manchester United star Wayne Rooney is all set to become the second most capped player for England when he takes the field against Slovakia in the 2018 Fifa World Cup Qualifier on Sunday. The skipper will also go past David Beckham, who finished his illustrious England career with 115 caps. Former goalkeeper Peter Shilton holds the record for playing the most number of matches (125) for England.
Rooney revealed it felt great to achieve the landmark but that he was focussed on giving his best for the game against Slovakia, which will be England's first game under newly-appointed manager Sam Allardyce.
"It is always an honour to represent your country so to become the player with the second-highest number of caps is great," Rooney was quoted as saying by Reuters.
"But tomorrow is about the team. I'm sure one day in the future I'll look back but right now I am looking forward and that is all I am focused on," he added.
England, who are placed in Group F along with Slovakia, Scotland, Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta, will open their qualifying campaign against the hosts at Stadion Antona Malatinskeho. Notably, Rooney's side was held to a goalless draw by Slovakia in their Euro 2016 group clash.
England's all-time scorer believes it is important to start a fresh campaign on a high. The Three Lions had a horrid run in Euro 2016 and were eventually stunned by Iceland 1-2 in the Round of 16 clash.
"I have said many times I'm proud to play for England and have been since I got in the team, but it is the start of a new qualification campaign so it is important that we get off to a good start," Rooney said.
Beckham himself came with an Instagram post congratulating the 30-year-old. He requested Rooney not to pay heed to critics who were calling for his retirement from international football and instead concentrate on the task in hand.
So tonight Wayne becomes England's most capped outfield player .. I keep listening to people say Wayne should stop playing for his country to prolong his club career .. Wayne should retire from playing for his country... Seriously .. As a player you retire when you're ready.. Representing you're country is the highest level you can reach as a professional player , walking out in an England shirt at Wembley is one of the greatest feelings as a player you can ever have... Don't let anyone take that away from you .. Every kid around the world that loves this game dreams of walking out in the national team colours and representing the country they love .. Continue till you can't give anymore .. Congratulations mate ?? @manchesterunited @england
Meanwhile, Allardyce who has taken over from Roy Hodgson after the Euro disappointment revealed he would feel the nerves ahead of Sunday's clash.
"I think there will be nerves. Every new job you get, you are nervous. You hope your players go out and do your talking and deliver what you want - a victory," he said on Saturday.
The former Sunderland manager has shown faith in Rooney and has retained him as the skipper of the side. With the unavailability of the first-choice goalkeeper Fraser Forster, England will go in with Joe Hart for the Slovakia clash. While Rooney will be looking to impress in his record-breaking outing, the visitors will be wary of Napoli midfielder Marek Hamsik, who has been in impressive form for both his club and the national side.