Manchester United forward Juan Mata believes Old Trafford team-mate and England captain Wayne Rooney will set a formidable goalscoring record for his country.
The 29-year-old drew level with Sir Bobby Charlton’s long-standing tally of 49 goals in an England shirt when he fired home a penalty in Saturday’s 6-0 rout of San Marino.
With the outright record now within his sights ahead of Tuesday’s clash with Switzerland, Mata has backed Rooney to create his own lasting legacy for the national team.
Writing in his ‘One Hour Behind’ blog, Mata said: “I would like to congratulate England for becoming the first team already qualified for the Euro 2016. They have good players in every line and I’m sure they’re going to be one of the main rivals in France.
“Special congrats to my team-mate Wayne Rooney for equalling Sir Bobby Charlton as England’s leading all-time goalscorer. Wayne is one of the best players I’ve ever had as a team-mate, and I’m sure he’s going to set a record very difficult to beat in the future…
“In general, the national teams in the British Islands (sic) are doing very well in the qualifiers. Wales and Northern Ireland are the leaders of their respective groups, whereas Scotland is in a more complicated situation after being defeated in Georgia.”
Spain edged to the top of Euro 2016 qualifying Group C with a 2-0 win over Slovakia and Mata is now keen to consolidate their place with victory over Macedonia, who have lost six of their seven games so far.
“Now we must finish the job against Macedonia,” he said. “They are not in a good position in the group, but I’m sure it’s going to be a tough team to beat.
“It won’t be easy to win in Skopje. And we will keep an eye on the other game between Ukraine and Slovakia, because the score can have a big impact on the group.”