July 3, 2018 / 10:57 AM / 14 days ago

Loss to Belgium was best result for England - Rooney

(Reuters) - England’s 1-0 loss to Belgium in their World Cup Group G clash last week was probably the best result for the team, former captain Wayne Rooney said on Tuesday.

Belgium's Adnan Januzaj scores their first goal. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

England manager Gareth Southgate made eight changes for the game against Belgium and his team finished second in the group to land a potentially easier route through the tournament.

Jul 2, 2018; Washington, DC, USA; DC United forward Wayne Rooney speaks at his introduction press conference at Newseum. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

"For me personally, it's the right decision," Rooney told here ESPN. "The result, in my opinion -- I can say it now, I'm not (an England) player -- the result was the best result for England.

“And maybe that’s been a problem we’ve had the last 15, 20 years as a country: we’re too honest. We sit there and say we want to win every game. This is England. This is how we should play.”

Southgate’s decision to change the side who beat Panama 6-1 was met with divided opinion in the British media.

Soccer Football - World Cup - Group G - England vs Belgium - Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad, Russia - June 28, 2018 Belgium's Mousa Dembele and Leander Dendoncker in action with England's Ruben Loftus-Cheek REUTERS/Lee Smith

“When all the other countries are plotting their way through, I’m sure Gareth would have liked to have kept the momentum going, but sometimes you need to take a step backward to go forward. I believe it was definitely the right decision,” Rooney said.

The 32-year-old, who completed his move to Major League Soccer (MLS) side DC United from Everton last week is England’s all-time leading scorer with 53 goals before his international retirement last year.

Southgate’s side face Colombia in the last 16 in Moscow on Tuesday.

Asked about England’s ambitions in the tournament, Rooney said: “I think we should be dreaming now.”

Reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond

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