LONDON, September 9- England manager Roy Hodgson challenged Wayne Rooney to emulate Bobby Charlton’s World Cup-winning exploits after he broke the 77-year-old’s scoring record by netting his 50th international goal against Switzerland.
The England captain lashed in a late penalty in Tuesday’s 2-0 win in a Euro 2016 qualifier at Wembley to become England’s outright all-time leading scorer, having equalled Charlton’s previous mark in Saturday’s 6-0 win in San Marino.
Charlton led a flood of tributes to Rooney after the game and with the Manchester United captain not due to turn 30 until next month, Hodgson believes he can stretch the record and emulate Charlton by leading England to glory.
Asked how many goals Rooney could yet score for England, Hodgson replied: “It depends how long he plays. I’d like to think we’re on 10 games a year these days, a bit more if we do quite well in a tournament.
“So if he plays to 2018 at least we’re talking 20 or 30 games, so 10 to 15 goals with his rate of scoring.
“But I know Wayne well enough to know he’s really delighted tonight. It’s a proud moment for him and his family, but he’s not got in his head how many goals he can score for England.
“He wants to make England a better team, to make sure, like Sir Bobby Charlton, he ends up winning a tournament or getting very good results in a tournament.”
Rooney is the first to acknowledge that despite the goal-scoring record, his England career does not compare to that of Charlton, a key member of the team that tasted World Cup glory on home soil in 1966.
But there was no room for caveats on a night that belonged to Rooney, who wiped tears from his eyes as the crowd rose to acclaim him in the aftermath of his historic goal.
Hodgson revealed afterwards that Rooney had been presented with a framed shirt with the number 50 on the back by the Football Association and had made a brief speech to his team-mates in the changing room.
– ‘Lot more to come’ –
The FA subsequently released video footage of the speech, which showed Rooney saying: “I’d like to thank everyone here, coaches, players, staff who I’ve worked with for such a long time.
“It’s such a huge moment for myself and my family in my career. Hopefully, for the team, for myself, (there’s) a lot more to come.
“Hopefully there’s a lot of the younger lads — Harry (Kane), Ross (Barkley), Raheem (Sterling) — coming through, who can come closer and even pass me in the future.
“It means the world to me. Thank you very much.”
Rooney will be presented with a golden boot by Charlton prior to England’s next game against Estonia next month.
Rooney’s strike, which came after substitute Kane had broken the deadlock with his second goal in two games, rubber-stamped an eighth successive qualifying win for Hodgson’s side.
The only black mark for the victors was a hamstring injury sustained by Manchester City midfielder Fabian Delph, who injured himself after just nine seconds.
“He pulled his hamstring,” Hodgson said. “How serious, a scan will have to show us. We’re very disappointed, as is he.”
While England’s victory assured them of first place in Group E, Switzerland still have work to do to secure a berth at next year’s tournament in France.
But with a three-point lead over third-place Slovenia ahead of a home game with San Marino and a trip to Estonia, they remain on course to qualify.
“We’re not at our maximum in September,” said coach Vladimir Petkovic, whose side had come from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at home to Slovenia in their previous game on Saturday.
“We were also perhaps a bit naive at times. At 1-0, I think we could have taken our chances better. Mentally, it’s difficult to prepare for two matches in three days.”