Marking the 17th anniversary of Wayne Rooney's senior England debut back in 2003

Wednesday 12 Feb 2020
Wayne Rooney made his England debut against Australia in 2003, coming on at half time

Today marks the 17th anniversary of Wayne Rooney, England's highest goalscorer, marking the turf in international colours for the very first time. 

On 12 February 2003, Rooney was called upon to come off the bench by then manager Sven Goran Eriksson at half time as England faced Australia at Upton Park. 

And in doing so, the Everton forward became the youngest senior international for the Three Lions, until Theo Walcott took that record in 2006. 

The match itself ended in disappointment with an all-star starting line-up allowing the Socceroos to score twice before Eriksson made a full 11 changes at half time which saw Rooney and some more inexperienced players eventually succumb to a 3-1 defeat.

Fellow debutant and Everton team-mate Francis Jeffers grabbed England's goal that night and although Rooney was unable to score, he'd trodden the first steps of what would be an illustrious career. 

The young hotshot captured the imagination of the entire country at EURO 2004 prompting Eriksson to tell the media: “I don’t remember anyone making such an impact since Pele in the 1958 World Cup" - high praise for an 18-year-old. 

Rooney then left his boyhood club to launch a career at Manchester United that would see him become the record goalscorer there too, while representing his country at a further six major tournaments and being named England player of the year on four separate occasions. 

Rooney replaced Michael Owen at half time but was unable to help the team avoid a 3-1 defeat in the end

His passion and loyalty to his country saw him named captain in 2014 under Roy Hodgson, before eventually playing his final international football game against USA in 2018, finishing as our current highest goalscorer with 53.  

The Rooney-show is not over yet and after a brief spell over in the USA he is back on English shores plying his trade for Derby County in the Championship, with whom he will face his old employers Manchester United in the next round of the Emirates FA Cup.

By Tom Dean