Former England captain Wayne Rooney will make one final appearance for the national team when the Three Lions take on the United States in a friendly at Wembley Stadium on Nov. 15, the Football Association announced Sunday.
Despite retiring from international competition last year, the Manchester United legend will have a chance to add to his record 53 goals for England.
The surprise call-up will be a one-off to honour the country’s highest scorer and contribute to his charitable foundation. The friendly fixture against the U.S. has been named The Wayne Rooney Foundation International.
“I am truly humbled and hugely excited to play for England at Wembley again,” Rooney said. “I would like to thank (England manager) Gareth Southgate and the FA for inviting me back and helping to support my foundation in the process.
“Playing for England was the greatest honour of my career – so winning my 120th, and final, cap will be a particularly special moment for me. It’s fitting that the match will be against the USA and I hope that both sets of fans enjoy the game.
“I have been hugely impressed with the progress of this young England team. I hope that whilst I am with the squad I can pass on some of my experience. Trying to help others is a particular focus of mine now through my foundation. I was lucky to enjoy a long and successful career with a great many people helping me to achieve my dreams. The foundation allows me to give something back to four charities, all of whom do hugely important work.”
Rooney, who just finished his debut season in Major League Soccer with D.C. United, is expected to start on the bench, according to the Guardian’s Dominic Fifield.
Fifield notes the Football Association risks accusations of devaluing the match with the move, since the 33-year-old hasn’t represented his country since a 3-0 World Cup qualifying win over Scotland in November 2016, but the FA and Southgate consider the opportunity a once in a generation occasion, similar to Lukas Podolski’s send-off by Germany against England in 2017.
Related: Rooney, Ibrahimovic highlight finalists for MLS MVP award
The FA’s decision could also attract criticism because the friendly takes place three days before England’s Nations League tie with Croatia.
Southgate defended Rooney’s call-up in the FA’s announcement, saying: “This tribute to Wayne is a unique opportunity that is befitting of our nation’s record goal-scorer. We’re fortunate that circumstances have allowed us to formally acknowledge Wayne’s immense contribution to England in front of the Wembley crowd and against apt opponents given the recent impact he has made in MLS.
“We all look forward to the occasion and lending support to a number of good causes through the Wayne Rooney Foundation.”
Rooney spent almost 14 years with the national team after making his debut in February 2003, captaining England in 23 of his 119 caps.