Wayne Rooney is one of England's best - Gary Lineker

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Wayne Rooney: Gary Lineker & Alan Shearer on England captain

Former England captain Gary Lineker believes Wayne Rooney deserves to be recognised as one of the nation's greatest players.

Rooney, 29, will win his 100th cap against Slovenia on Saturday and is the fourth top England goalscorer on 43.

"He has to rank right up there in the pantheon of English football's finest," Lineker, who scored 48 goals for England, told BBC Radio 5 live.

"There is no doubt he is a great player."

Rooney became England's youngest debutant when he won his first cap at the age of 17 against Australia in February 2003.

That record has since broken by Theo Walcott, but Rooney remains the youngest player to start an England international.

Hailed as England's player of Euro 2004 when he scored four goals before breaking his foot as England lost to Portugal in the quarter-finals, Rooney was criticised for failing to produce at major tournaments and took until his third World Cup to score in the competition.

England's leading goalscorers
GoalsAppearances
Sir Bobby Charlton49106
Gary Lineker4880
Jimmy Greaves4457
Wayne Rooney4399

Lineker said: "It has not quite happened for him in major tournaments for various reasons, barring the first one, where he exploded on to the scene in 2004 and played so well.

"He has very rarely gone to a major tournament in prime condition. On other occasions, the team has not performed that well.

"He has scored 40-odd goals for his country and has been a consistent performer. He is brilliant at finding space and dropping deep. He is a good all-round footballer and scores plenty of goals."

Former England manager Steve McClaren feels Rooney, who has been sent off six times in his career, twice while playing for his country, does not receive enough credit.

"He is not appreciated enough," said the current Derby County boss, who was manager from 2006 to 2007 after succeeding Sven-Goran Eriksson.

A special programme to mark Rooney's 100th appearance will be aired on BBC Radio 5 live on Tuesday from 19:30 to 21:30 GMT presented by Mark Pougatch, joined by former BBC football correspondent Mike Ingham, and football writers Henry Winter and Neil Ashton.

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