LONDON – Wayne Rooney's British career ended with a first: relief from not registering.
Every time the striker hit the ball after entering the 58th minute, however far from the goal to the 120th, the fans shouted "Shoot!"
The best chance fell to 33-year-old Rooney in the second minute of stopping the United States at the Wembley Stadium. Graved in the penalty area, Rooney returned to shoot, only to be denied by Brad Guzan's American goalkeeper.
It was a rougher smile from Rooney, whose career in England ended with 53 goals. He did not challenge the result because a new generation of players has already offered the offense that secured a 3-0 victory over the friendly team against the country Rooney now calls home.
"Another yard would have been in … and it would be great," Rooney said. "But in a way it's great, because if I signed up, it would have opened another whole debate if that objective were to be considered or not.
"In some ways it's probably better not to go in," he said.
This was the agitated debate of the best-played field player in England, who was recalled after two years outside the team to have this ceremony farewell, 15 years after his debut.
"FA celebrates the players who have left their mark on international football for England – it never happened in the past what they should have," Rooney said, winning the Premier League and Champions League title with Manchester United.
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"He did not take shape as Gareth and the players are trying to do," he said. "We hope that in a few years some players will have a similar night for their achievements. It was a wonderful touch for me."
Until Rooney entered Manchester United's former substitute Jesse Lingard in the 58th minute, England made enough to win. Lingard and Trent Alexander-Arnold scored in the first half in 104 seconds. While the England director was good, Alexander-Arnold joined Callum Wilson striker in getting the first goals for England.
But it was Rooney's night.
England proclaimed the "King's Return" night, celebrating a player who was so excited in England's shirt, but could not inspire the country to a first title in 1966.
"He was brilliant, the time he gave to all the players," said England coach Gareth Southgate. "He had some wonderful blows, some great balls, and I was a backyard to Brad Guzan's left at the end of a fairy tale."
The beginning of the night was quite memorable.
In front of 68,155 fans, Rooney entered the field before the match, with his four boys Cass, who was born in February.
"There are wonderful memories when I'm older looking back," Rooney said, before entering the locker room to make a final speech as a player of England.
Southgate said he does not want to float on Rooney's parade, addressing his players' performance concerns.
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They will have to listen to the press conference.
"Sometimes the US has come too easily," Southgate said. "We were caught in the transition and we were wide open. If we do that on Sunday we will lose."
Stakes will be tighter on Sunday in the next game at Wembley.
After leaving the country, England learned that Croatia beat Spain 3-2 in the UEFA League before its trip to London. England or Croatia has the chance to advance to the Final Four if any of them can win the match. A draw would allow Spain to advance from the A4 league to the final of the new European team national competition.
"If we are ruthless, we have to do that right through the game," Southgate said.
Rooney is optimistic. When England reached the first semifinal of the World Cup in 28 years in July, Rooney was a far-fetched spectator.
"I see how they work and how they improve, it was great for me," Rooney said.