Where are they now? The England team on Wayne Rooney’s debut


Wayne Rooney won 120 caps for England between 2003 and 2018 – and an awful lot changed in those 15 years.

Rooney announced his retirement from internationals in August 2017, before making a one-off return to the national side a year later, but the former Manchester United striker still provided supporters with plenty of wonderful memories.

We’ve looked back at the England team – or rather two teams, given Sven Goran Eriksson made 11 changes at half-time – which took to the field for his international debut, which came in a 3-1 defeat to Australia at Upton Park in February 2003.

David James

James represented 10 different clubs during his playing career and was a regular in the England set-up, establishing himself as No.1 during his later years on his way to 53 caps.

At the start of 2018, James replaced Rene Muelensteen as manager of Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League but was sacked after less than a year following an 11-match winless streak.

Away from football, the 49-year-old appeared on Strictly Come Dancing in 2019 and was the fourth celebrity to be voted off.

Gary Neville

Team-mates for seven years at Manchester United and four with England, Neville has talked up Rooney’s value on a number of occasions, telling Sky Sports in his role as a pundit: “Rooney is fearless when it comes to big matches, he is fearless when it comes to big moments.”

Rio Ferdinand

Like Neville, Ferdinand was a regular alongside Rooney for both Manchester United and England careers.

Like Neville, he has regularly talked up his former team-mate since becoming a pundit. It’s just a shame not all supporters have always appreciated his brilliance.

Sol Campbell

Campbell became more accustomed to facing Rooney as an opponent rather than a team-mate after being phased out of the England side following Euro 2004 at a time when Manchester United and Arsenal were regularly locked in fierce battles.

The 44-year-old made a promising start to life as a manager with League Two outfit Macclesfield Town but left the financially troubled club by mutual agreement in 2019.

Campbell is now in charge of Southend United in League One.

Ashley Cole

The last player on this list to announce their retirement from professional football. Cole was England’s first-choice left-back throughout the majority of Rooney’s time in the national set-up, winning 107 caps.

In 2012 Rooney even said that he would “take a bullet” for Cole, who retired in 2019 after a short spell with Derby County.

David Beckham

To be honest, it’s hard to define what Beckham does these days. Co-owner and president of Inter Miami FC, co-owner of Salford City, a UNICEF ambassador and our hero.

Perhaps Rooney was thinking about his former captain’s words of advice when he decided to call it a day.

Frank Lampard

While playing together for England and being two of the main faces of the ‘Golden Generation’, Lampard and Rooney were also often at the heart of the ferocious tussles between Chelsea and Manchester United.

After hanging up his boots, Lampard became a pundit before taking the Derby County manager’s job in the summer of 2018.

And he did well enough in the Midlands to earn the job he and every Chelsea fan must have dreamed he’d get, replacing Maurizio Sarri in the Stamford Bridge hotseat just a year later.

Paul Scholes

Rooney had the pleasure of playing in front of Scholes for eight years at Manchester United, but they only overlapped in an England shirt for one year before the midfielder decided to focus on his club career.

Despite spending a career trying to stay out of the limelight, Scholes is among the long line of players to turn their hand to media duties.

Scholes was appointed manager of Oldham in 2019 but lasted just 31 days in the role before resigning.

Kieron Dyer

Dyer was one of a number of players who England hoped would be able to solve the problem position on the left wing, only for injuries to seriously curtail his career.

James Beattie

We liked Beattie. We liked the way he turned his back on penalties before taking a swift run up and just smashing the ball into the back of the net. We like that he scored lots of goals for Southampton in the early noughties.

We don’t like that he got headbutted by a naked Tony Pulis at Stoke. Nobody deserves that.

He finished his playing career with Accrington, who he then managed for 16 months before taking coaching roles at Swansea, Leeds, Middlesbrough and Birmingham.

Michael Owen

Oh, what could have been. Euro 2004 offered a tantalising glimpse into what could have been a scarily good England strike force, only for injuries to both players to mean it never really happened.

As a former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Manchester United striker, Owen is now a pundit, obviously.

READ: Michael Owen on that Argentina goal & Wayne Rooney’s England career

Paul Robinson

Robinson eventually became England’s No.1 and was the first choice at the 2006 World Cup before falling completely out of the picture following the dismal Euro 2008 qualifying campaign.

Remarkably he made a return to the Premier League with Burnley in 2016 before calling time on his career at the end of the 2016-17 season.

Danny Mills

Mills played largely second fiddle for England due to the dominance of Gary Neville at right-back but was first choice at the 2002 World Cup courtesy of the Manchester United man’s injury.

The former Leeds and Manchester City defender is now making a name for himself as one of the grumpiest pundits around.

QUIZ: Can you name every member of England’s 2002 World Cup squad?

Wes Brown

After being relegated from the Championship with Blackburn Rovers in 2016-17, Brown enjoyed a summer holiday with Rooney before joining former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen at Indian Super League club Kerala Blasters, who he left at the end of 2018.

Ledley King

A player who would have been more than capable of challenging Rio Ferdinand, Sol Campbell and John Terry for a starting spot in the centre of England’s defence were it not for injuries.

The Tottenham hero is now a club ambassador and moved into coaching with their academy but revealed in December 2018 he has put those plans on hold.

Paul Konchesky

Konchesky won two caps for England but retired after playing non-league football at Billericay Town and East Thurrock United.

We spoke to him all about his experience with the Three Lions on The Broken Metatarsal podcast.

Paul Konchesky

READ: Paul Konchesky: I wondered ‘should I be here?’ on England duty

Owen Hargreaves

Another case of ‘what might have been’. Hargreaves was arguably England’s best player at the 2006 World Cup, but chronic injuries problems curtailed his career just as he began to establish himself in the starting XI.

Yes, he’s another pundit now.

READ: Owen Hargreaves: Man Utd’s cursed yet brilliant midfield maestro

Danny Murphy

Decent Premier League midfielder.


Jermaine Jenas

Decent Premier League midfielder.


READ: Jermaine Jenas: England’s big names were auto picks & did things their way

Darius Vassell

Vassell’s England career would end as he replaced the injured Rooney and went on to miss the decisive spot-kick as England were knocked out of Euro 2004 by Portugal.

After retiring at the age of 32, Vassell is now throwing his support behind GCSportscare, a service set up by former Aston Villa defender Gary Charles which helps players deal with issues such as depression, alcohol or drug dependency, gambling, burn-out. low self-esteem and relationship complications. Good man.

Francis Jeffers

Playing up front alongside Rooney in the second half, Jeffers scored England’s only goal in the 3-1 defeat.

A warning of what can happen to promising young players, Jeffers never fulfilled his potential but is now back at his first club, Everton, as a coach in the academy.

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