Wayne Rooney isn't surprised with England's semifinal run as he's seen the Three Lions' progress quite rapidly in the past few years. Wayne Rooney sits down with ESPN's Taylor Twellman to detail what drew him to his new club and his expectations for his time in MLS. ESPN's Taylor Twellman sits down with Wayne Rooney to speak about how his exit from Everton all went down.
Wayne Rooney has told ESPN that England will find more international success if foreign Premier League coaches have "a little bit more faith in young English players."
Rooney, who is preparing to make his MLS debut with D.C. United on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+), watched England's World Cup semifinal defeat at a Washington restaurant and said he was "devastated" to see the young team fall to Croatia in extra-time.
England's longtime captain and all-time top scorer never reached the semifinals of a major tournament with the Three Lions before his international retirement in 2016, and he was succinct when asked by ESPN's Taylor Twellman to name the biggest obstacle facing up-and-coming English players.
"Playing. Just to continue playing in their clubs," Rooney said on Thursday. "I think there's more homegrown players, well not more, but homegrown players get a chance and they stay in the team, in particularly [in] Germany, Italy.
"In England they have a lot of foreign coaches who buy players in, players that they maybe know and play them all the time.
"I think only because of performances -- for Manchester United, Jesse Lingard got the opportunity to go and play in every game at the World Cup for England. So I think a little bit more faith in young English players will help the national team."
Wayne Rooney and Marcus Rashford
Featuring both the youngest and least experienced squad at the World Cup, England's successful run was somewhat unexpected, but Rooney said he wasn't surprised at his former teammates' display.
"Well I think if you rewind and go back two years I remember I was captain, I come out to the media and I said, 'Be patient with these players, these players are a very talented group of players, and will be successful for England if we allow them to be and give them time,'" Rooney said.
"It may be a little bit sooner than I thought, I thought maybe 2020, but I think the players since then in the two years have progessed along at club level. Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane continuing, Dele Alli, they've all progressed a lot in two years and brought a lot to the national team and Jesse Lingard as well, [Marcus] Rashford coming in. I wasn't surprised, no."
But Rooney also warned against complacency as England will at least match their best finish at a World Cup since they lifted the trophy in 1996, and he urged England to only accept championships as accomplishments worth celebrating.
"Success in football is to win titles," he said. "It's like, England in 1990 got to the semifinal, England 2018 got to the semifinal, but you'll be remembered for the semifinal, not for winning the title.
"You have to win titles. If you want to be remembered, you want to create history, you want to be known as a successful team, you have to win titles."