Wayne Rooney, almost for old times, ended up dealing with the pressure. This is a player who had grown to drag the weight of expectation during a career in England that will reach a 120th cap on Thursday night. But the late cameo that the DC United striker has against the United States on its first appearance for the national team of 734 days will be different.
For Rooney this may be a throwback. A chance for the world to revoke tearaway that ripped into Turkey at the Stadium of Light at a first competitive start, or rampaged by all-comers so startling on the way to the quarterfinals at Euro 2004 in Portugal. At 33 years the body inevitably lacks youth's energy. Time may have boring something of zest but the mind will be available. Freed.
It could be the perfect way to go out, as he easily acknowledged, there were times when things were far from fun. "There were times when I did not like it as much as I should," he said.
"It was under the pressure I put on myself, which of course you're in the position you do not want to admit is there. I've gone back from it now and can analyze it and see it there. That's what you're trying to do. Too bad, worry that you do not enjoy as much as you should. It affects your performance because you play your best football and do your best performance when you enjoy playing. And I will enjoy Thursday. "
Rooney returned from the United States to detect some observers, including many former international from Peter Shilton to Stuart Pearce, questioning why a preparatory friendly three days before a Nations League match against Croatia will be transformed into Wayne Rooney Foundation International.
The revocation has devalued the opportunity they said, for all that the charity gathering outside the stadium should be welcomed. The former captain, fresh from two training sessions with a vibrating young squad, was diplomatic when he thought about an opportunity for 12 months at work.
Everyone, he said, is right in his opinion. "But if people agree with it or not, there's something going on," he added. "Many of the older players, players who won the World Cup, were not treated as well as they should have been. As a country, we have not done anything like this before. It's the first time. I hope, in 10 or 15 years, we're sitting here for someone like Harry Kane, who may continue to get the goalkeeper record and there will be something happening again. FA tries to move in another direction and celebrate the players who have influenced their country. "
It was a passing denial that he had digged the wedding at the Law Hotel in November 2016, the day after he had won his 119th cap in victory over Scotland and a reminder that Gareth Southgate "actually picked me up after the event.
"Even though I was in a position where this game would take [125-cap] record Peter Shilton, I would never have played in the game. I would never have done that. But the game will not affect an outfield player record or Peter Shilton in that regard, so we felt it was a good time to say thank you to the fans, but also to raise money for disadvantaged children who need it desperately. That was the right decision to make. "
This will be as far as his career in English is concerned, if the country's leading score comes on and does a 10-minute hat trick or barely touches the ball. There are no loan transfers from DC United, to which he is a contract for another three years, back to the Premier League and no late case staked to be held for Sunday match against Croatia.
Southgate takes the opportunity to take Rooney's knowledge of goodbye. In a stage before the United States match, Rooney will talk with the squad, or at least their younger contingent.
He stands at his decision to retire internationally 15 months ago but has been welcome back in the week with open arms, even by the boss whose desire to turn to youth effectively restrained his career.
The former Manchester United and Everton striker said Southgate is "afraid". "Many other managers did not really allow young people to express themselves and get into the team and have an impact, but Gareth has done it, which gives them experience but also that they can do well and be successful for their country.
"I thought they would be good enough to go to a World Cup, but maybe next (2022) rather than in Russia. They showed me wrong. These players seem comfortable in each other's company. Of the six managers I played for, while there were some who brought in individual young players, to get as many through as a group and trust them … he deserves a lot of credit.
"But my time has been gone." Some good games, some bad games. "It's the story of my career in England." I'm taking off as a record shooter and represents my country 119 times and feel very proud to have done it. "
It will be swollen by one, with the youngest of his four boys, Cass, and looks at his father in an England shirt for the first time. No pressure really.