Wayne Rooney told UEFA.com about "a huge moment in my life" after a late penalty against Switzerland made the England captain his country's outright record goalscorer.
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It was the night that brought his 50th goal for England and for Wayne Rooney, standing in the Wembley tunnel afterwards, there was only one way to describe it. "It's a night I will never forget," he said, summing up an evening that ended with his name etched in the record books.
The England captain's second-half penalty during Tuesday's 2-0 victory over Group E rivals Switzerland had taken him beyond Sir Bobby Charlton, another Manchester United icon, as the highest scorer in the history of his national team, and his pride and satisfaction were evident to see.
"It's a great feeling obviously to be the leading goalscorer for my country," a smiling Rooney told UEFA.com. "It's a huge moment for me and my family and I am extremely proud. It was a good result tonight although we didn't play great, but overall a special night for me if I'm being a bit selfish. It's a night I'll never forget."
His 84th-minute strike, like the one that moved him level with Sir Bobby in San Marino on Saturday, came from the penalty spot. He thrashed it to the right of Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer, who got a hand to the ball in vain. His celebrations underlined the emotion of the occasion, as the 29-year-old admitted afterwards.
"It was a great feeling. It's been a bit annoying over the last few games really. I am happy now it's out of the way and I can focus on the football again. When it hit the net it was such a special moment and as you probably saw a bit emotional. I think I filled up a bit. It is a huge moment for me in my life and my career."
The sight of Joe Hart chanting "Rooney, Rooney" as the pair headed towards the dressing rooms was a taste of what lay in store for the history boy: Rooney received an ovation from his team-mates as he walked in and was presented with a shirt with the No50 on the back by manager Roy Hodgson. "The lads all gave me a shirt with 50 on. I got the lads to sign it so it's great and something I'll keep forever. It's a one-off shirt at the minute so I'm thankful I'm the only one with it."
Rooney was a 17-year-old at Everton when he opened his England account in a 2-1 victory at FYR Macedonia in UEFA EURO 2004 qualifying on 6 September 2003. That was 12 years and two days before the night of his 50th. When, in the intervening years, did he start to believe he could make history?
Rooney, 30 next month, replied: "I've played for England for a long time and [I've always known that] if I keep getting games and getting chances I'll give myself a chance and certainly over the last two or three years I've been clinical and scoring goals for England. I have kept edging towards that target and thankfully tonight I've surpassed it and I am grateful."
One of the first people to congratulate Rooney was Sir Bobby, the man he has usurped in the record books. "I've already had a text message," he revealed. "Sir Bobby will be, I am sure, extremely proud – obviously a bit disappointed as well but I think he will be proud that it's the captain of Man Utd and England who has surpassed him. He was a great hero for England, winning the World Cup, and it is such a huge honour to overtake him. I see Sir Bobby every week and he helps me a lot so I am grateful for all his help over the years."