THE big man, as Wayne Rooney famously declared when he was passed fit for the 2006 World Cup, is back.
Rooney is attending his own international memorial service tomorrow, readying himself for a farewell at Wembley.
He has done this 119 times before and yet he was nervous, wary and bashful ahead of his 120th — and pray to God his final — cap.
Wembley will stand to salute him when Gareth Southgate puts an end to this terrible PR stunt by putting him on as sub against the USA.
Rooney, who has not played for England since the 3-0 victory over Scotland on November 11 2016, said: “It was a strange feeling coming back.
“I don’t know if it was nerves or if it was different to what I’d normally do when I met up.
“It will be great to walk into the dressing room and see my shirt hanging up again.
“And to have that last run out.”
It is completely unnecessary, a gimmick that got out of control when Southgate was persuaded that this is a good idea.
Rooney does not need another appearance to be appreciated but that is what the country must be put through to keep pace with celebrity indulgence.
REMEMBER THE WAYNE — ROONEY’S ENGLAND HIGH FIVE
BECOMES England’s youngest ever goal scorer at 17 years and 317 days in 2-1 victory over Macedonia in Skopje.
PRODUCES brilliant displays during group-stage games at Euro 2004, netting back-to-back doubles against Switzerland and Croatia.
LIGHTS up the Maracana with super strike against Brazil, curling home from 25 yards to put England 2-1 up — but Samba stars grab late leveller.
SCORES two to help beat Scotland 3-1 in England’s first game north of the border in 15 years.
ROONEY breaks Sir Bobby Charlton’s Three Lions scoring record with his 50th goal — a penalty — during a 2-0 Wembley victory over Switzerland in a Euro 2016 qualifying match.
His England career — The Good, the Bad and the Ugly — has been well chronicled.
The rampaging Rooney gave us some great moments, such as his belting two-goal performances against Switzerland and Croatia as an 18-year-old at Euro 2004.
There was the first time he captained the country, handed the armband for a friendly against Brazil in Qatar in 2009.
Then his record-breaking 50th international goal, an 84th minute penalty against the Swiss two years later.
This is probably not the time, then, to go to town on the bad because that would mean revisiting some fairly tasteless things down the years.
Whatever you might think of this charade, it is Rooney’s night.
It is upon us and he should enjoy it, to soak up the acclaim and savour the occasion.
Rooney, 33, added: “I haven’t been in a squad since the Scotland game in 2016, partly through not playing for Manchester United or not being selected.
“Then I made the decision to retire from international football.
“Of course, it would have been nice to have won something.
“Not many England players have done that.
“I appreciate my time in the England squad. The only regret is maybe not having that last game, and my way of saying thank you to the fans. That’s the only regret I had.”
He has that chance now, winning his 120th cap — the most by a Three Lions outfield player and five fewer than keeper Peter Shilton’s all-time record.
Rooney added: “Speaking with the FA, we just felt it was right.
“Also, if I was in a position where this game was going to take the record off Peter Shilton, I would never have played. I would never have done that.
“We felt it was a good opportunity to say thank you to the fans and also to raise money for underprivileged children who need it desperately. It was the right decision to make.”
Rooney’s international career ended abruptly, dumped from the squad when he was well-oiled and accused of gatecrashing a wedding at the Grove Hotel in Hertfordshire the day after England’s win over the Scots two year ago.
Rooney remembers it differently. He added: “Gareth did pick me again, actually — last season.
“And I never entered the wedding. But that’s another story.”
Fair enough, another time.
This is a celebration, a reminder that England’s No 10 was once one of the most talented footballers in the world.
From the moment Southgate sends him down the touchline to warm up the atmosphere at Wembley will change instantly.
His name will reverberate around the stands and they will demand to see the country’s 53-goal striker on the pitch.
Rooney added: “As I said to Gareth, whatever he wants from me in the game is what I’ll try and give him.
“Obviously I know this is the last game for me.
“I’m not putting any pressure on the team: ‘Should he wear the No 10? Should he wear the armband?’ I’m not making any demands or saying I want to do this or that.
“My message to Gareth was you get what you want out of the game, from the players, and when you feel it’s right to bring me on, that’s fine for me.
“It would be a fairytale ending to score but if it doesn’t happen, I won’t let it spoil the occasion.”
Rooney is determined to enjoy it, to look up at the Wembley stands one final time as an England player.
He is extremely fortunate to have that chance.
Rooney added: “My time has been and gone. There were some good games and some bad games — that’s the story of my England career.
“I’ll take away being the record scorer, representing my country more than 100 times and feeling immense pride in doing that.”
It is an immense contribution. There was just no need to dwell on it.