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Sunday, Aug 18, 2019

Loss to Belgium was best result for England in FIFA World Cup: Wayne Rooney

Belgium beat England in the group stages of the FIFA World Cup which Wayne Rooney thinks was the best result for the 1966 champions.

football Updated: Jul 03, 2018 18:50 IST
England lost to Belgium in the group stages of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia.
England lost to Belgium in the group stages of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia.(AFP)

England’s 1-0 loss to Belgium in their World Cup Group G clash last week was probably the best result for the team, former captain Wayne Rooney said on Tuesday.

England manager Gareth Southgate made eight changes for the game against Belgium and his team finished second in the group to land a potentially easier route through the tournament.

READ | Japan’s Honda calls time on international career after FIFA World Cup exit

“For me personally, it’s the right decision,” Rooney told ESPN. “The result, in my opinion -- I can say it now, I’m not (an England) player -- the result was the best result for England.

“And maybe that’s been a problem we’ve had the last 15, 20 years as a country: we’re too honest. We sit there and say we want to win every game. This is England. This is how we should play.”

Southgate’s decision to change the side who beat Panama 6-1 was met with divided opinion in the British media.

“When all the other countries are plotting their way through, I’m sure Gareth would have liked to have kept the momentum going, but sometimes you need to take a step backward to go forward. I believe it was definitely the right decision,” Rooney said.

READ | FIFA World Cup: Tearful Japan fans crushed by last-gasp loss to Belgium

The 32-year-old, who completed his move to Major League Soccer (MLS) side DC United from Everton last week is England’s all-time leading scorer with 53 goals before his international retirement last year.

Southgate’s side face Colombia in the last 16 in Moscow on Tuesday.

Asked about England’s ambitions in the tournament, Rooney said: “I think we should be dreaming now.”

First Published: Jul 03, 2018 16:36 IST

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