WAYNE Rooney reached the milestone of 100 caps for England last week and joined an elite club.

He is now part of an elite club, which includes past and present greats like Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore, David Beckham and Steven Gerrard.

I think the term ‘legend’ is very overused in modern football, but even if Rooney never kicks another ball again, he should be remembered as one.

He now sits ninth on the list of all-time appearances for England and after a double against Scotland last night he is third on the goalscoring chart with 46 goals.

For the moment Peter Shilton holds the record number of caps with 125, while the goalscoring record is 49 and is held by Sir Bobby Charlton.

I believe he will go on to break both of those records before he retires.

In an era when players regularly pull out of international duty, only injuries (and the odd suspension) keeps the Manchester United striker away.

I don’t think he gets enough credit for that, maybe because it is seen as a given that you turn up and want to play for your country.

Rooney has dealt with more pressure than most and it started when he burst on the scene for Everton at only 16.

There is a great saying from famous novelist Aphra Behn: “There is no sinner like a young saint”.

Rooney certainly isn’t perfect and sometimes he has cracked under the pressure, but I will put that down to being young and naive.

I played against him a few times and I loved every minute of it, because you always want to test yourself against the best.

I first played against him just after he had broke on the scene at Everton by beating David Seaman with a 30-yard screamer.

At 16 he was physically strong and could hold his own, showing that he deserved to be at that level.

In the game he also showed his dark side that comes out now and again.

He put a tackle in on me which left two holes in my shin pad.

I wasn’t injured or hurt, but I do remember thinking “you little so-and-so!”

I used the same shin pads throughout my career, so I always had a chuckle to myself when I got ready for games and saw the holes.

Years later, I went up to Old Trafford with Reading for the 2007/08 season opener.

Our manager, Steve Coppell, devised a plan to shut down the big guns at Manchester United by marking man-to-man at the back.

I was given the job of shadowing Rooney – well, I could have asked my teammate Graeme Murty to swap with me and I mark Cristiano Ronaldo instead.

Wherever Rooney went, I went. My job was to never leave his side; if he left the pitch to go to the toilet, I was going to follow him.

He was very clever in trying to find space and once he knew what we were doing he was good at creating space for his teammates.

I stuck to him like glue and in an attempt to stop him scoring, my tackle in the first half left him with a broken foot.

It was purely accidental and I was gutted for him to end up missing two Euro 2008 qualifiers because of the injury.

I suppose if it wasn’t for me he’d have 103 caps by now and maybe a couple more goals.

Having seen what he can do up close, I am a huge admirer of Rooney and hope he gets all the accolades he deserves.

Fingers crossed as the new England captain he can lead the new generation to a successful era.

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