By Joe Harker
England's all time top goalscorer Wayne Rooney will come back for one last game in a friendly against the USA on November 15. The match will be called the "Wayne Rooney Foundation International" and proceeds will help support his charity. The FA have called it an opportunity to "honour" Rooney's international career, but many have criticised the decision.
Chris Sutton said Rooney's recall made a "mockery" of international football, suggesting it is a "patronising" way to say goodbye to England's all time top goalscorer. He also suggested that it flew in the face of the principles Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate has pursued.
Alan Shearer wondered why England couldn't just invite him to the friendly as a guest. Pointing out that England have never done this with anyone else, he questioned why a player who retired from international football 15 months ago was being invited back for one final game.
The Daily Telegraph's Jason Burt wrote that it sent out the wrong message, while the BBC's Phil McNulty asked whether it cheapened an England cap.
Southgate has been clear that he will not hand out caps unless a player fits into his plans and Rooney has not been part of those plans for a long time. Those opposed to giving Rooney one last game have argued that the friendly is a good chance for the manager to develop his squad for the future, including an old player who is no longer good enough blocks a chance another player might have had.
However, there are others who believe it is a nice gesture and cheapens nothing. Oliver Kay of The Times argues that Rooney's inclusion gives meaning to what would otherwise be a meaningless friendly. It's not some slap in the face to the players hoping to get a place in the squad.
It's one friendly to raise money for charity, not some deviation from Southgate's grand plan of giving younger players chances and building a team for the future. England aren't throwing away a qualifier or a Nations League game to give Rooney one last game, they can spare one game for their top goalscorer.
Having a retiring player feature in what is essentially a testimonial match is not new to international football. Southgate's first game with the senior team was a farewell game for Germany's Lukas Podolski. It was a friendly game and a chance to say goodbye to a player who made 130 appearances for his national team, what's so bad about Rooney getting something similar?