Rooney to overtake Greaves, Lineker and Charlton by 2016

England captain can start 12-month goal-rush against San Marino tonight

Wayne Rooney
(Image credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images)

It's fill-yer-boots time at Wembley tonight as England host San Marino, the team for whom the word 'minnows' was surely invented.

The last time the Three Lions played San Marino – a 24-mile square microstate on the Italian peninsula – they waltzed to an 8-0 victory. That was a World Cup qualifier in March 2013. In the eighteen months since San Marino have played eight more fixtures, winning none, losing all and conceding 39 goals. They did score one, however, Alessandro Della Valle finding the net in the 5-1 thrashing against Poland. It was San Marino's 20th international goal in almost a quarter of a century.

So in short, they're not much good, and really shouldn't be playing at this level. But they are and England go into tonight's Euro 16 qualifier knowing that there is little at stake. They'll win with ease, the biggest challenge for Roy Hodgson's men being to avoid any serious injuries before Sunday's slightly bigger test against Estonia in the second of their qualifiers.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

With a glut of goals expected this evening Wayne Rooney has the chance to close in on the England goalscoring record. The Manchester United striker has scored 41 goals for his country (in 97 appearances), three shy of Jimmy Greaves, seven short of Gary Lineker and eight behind Bobby Charlton, whose 49 goals in 106 matches remain the benchmark for all England forwards.

Rooney scored the last time England played San Marino and when he was asked on Wednesday if the record was on his mind, he replied: "It's there. There's no denying it. Jimmy Greaves is there and if I can overtake him this week, in the coming weeks, the coming months that would be great."

Rooney then reverted to sports speak, saying that obviously the record wasn't his priority. "I'm wanting to do well for the team and if I can score goals then great," he explained, adding: "The most important thing for us is to perform well and to win the games."

Something would be seriously wrong with Rooney's goalscoring boots if by this time next year he hasn't knocked Chartlon off his perch. England's opponents in that time are San Marino, Estonia, Slovenia, Scotland, Lithuania, Republic of Ireland, Slovenia, San Marino, Switzerland and Estonia.

Even a 76-year-old Charlton would fancy adding a few to his total against some of those sides.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.