Ronald Koeman says Wayne Rooney’s retirement from England duty is a “good decision” for the player and “a good decision for Everton”.
Rooney called time on his record-breaking international career on the eve of the Blues’ Europa League play-off second leg Hajduk Split, after declining the opportunity to join up with Gareth Southgate’s squad for next month’s World Cup qualifiers with Malta and Slovakia.
And with Everton juggling a hectic domestic campaign and what Koeman hopes will be a prolonged run in European competition, the manager is expecting his 31-year-old striker to benefit from the downtime he will enjoy during international breaks.
“Wayne spoke to me about this,” said Koeman. “He had a talk with the national coach and made his decision, because he thinks it is the best for Everton.
“It is always the player’s decision and, of course, I respect that.
“If you reach the group stage of the Europa League and have international duty, then that is a really tough programme.
“His fitness is really good at the moment. It is up to the player to decide the best thing to do.
“I respect that and I would have respected it if he had made a different decision about his future as an international player.
“I think it is a good decision for him and a good decision for Everton. It means when the internationals come, he will have some time at home with his family.”
Rooney exits the international stage as England’s record goalscorer, with 53, while his 119-caps is the most won by an outfield player for the Three Lions.
He is his the Three Lions’ second-highest appearance maker in all, six shy of the 125 outings made by goalkeeper Peter Shilton.
Koeman quit international football following Holland’s quarter-final defeat by Brazil at the 1994 World Cup in America.
He continued playing for Barcelona and Feyenoord for a further three years after drawing a line under his glittering 11-year, 78 cap national-team career.
“You can’t compare every situation,” said Koeman, when asked if he could draw parallels between his own decision to bow out of international football 23 years ago and Rooney’s retirement today.
“It is all about your feeling and when you need to stop football. Some stop at 32, others finish at 36 - like Gareth Barry, who wanted to move to play football every week at his age (36).
“I think your body is the main reason to say ‘stop’. But, finally, it is always the player’s decision.
“It is a question for Wayne [whether it was hard to retire so close to breaking the caps record].
“What he did for the national team was good enough. There is a time to come and a time to go and he made that decision.
“I didn’t give Wayne advice. I was not the right person to help him with this decision.
“And it would have been the same if he’d have wanted to continue playing for the national team.”