The 33-year-old Rooney will feature for a 120th England appearance during next week's friendly against the United States at Wembley Stadium, despite retiring from worldwide duty in August 2017.
Southgate said he last spoke to Rooney in April, when the DC United striker visited St George's Park as an honorary ambassador for the UEFA Under-17 European Championship, but the two men did not discuss the tribute. Sources close to Rooney have claimed that...
Southgate says the criticism of the Football Association's decision to honour Rooney has been a "disappointment".
"I'm glad that we'll see him in an England shirt one last time".
Now though, current England captain has gone off-script and said that he would love to hand over the captain's armband to Wayne Rooney. He's our greatest goalscorer and so why not give him the send-off he deserves?
"If we're also talking about helping young players develop in the worldwide set-up, then surely celebrating Wayne's career in this way is an example to the next generation of England stars".
"Those discussions started over 12 months ago; I was quite happy for the tribute to be before the World Cup but Wayne didn't want to detract from the team at that time, which everyone respected", said Southgate.More news: Apple Halts iPhone XR Supply Over Weak Demand
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"He deserves it. He was a great captain for us".
The FA's controversial decision has prompted accusations that Rooney's farewell call-up is a mere ruse to sell more tickets for the match, while others have suggested that the 33-year-old's involvement could derail the momentum of Southgate's squad ahead of a crucial UEFA Nations League game against Croatia.
"We are a odd country in that we bemoan the fact we haven't achieved as much as we'd like and then we have a player who should be held in the highest regard and we are spending a lot of time justifying giving him that tribute".
I understand that's caused a lot of debate but it's a small way of appreciating what he's given to his country. "I'm completely comfortable with the situation".
"He's been involved with either scoring or assists, with a high number of goals this season, so it's a good opportunity for us to have a look at him and see how he fits into what we do, and for him to get a feel of working with the senior team".
"In football, and in sport in general, people are not recognised or recognised too late". We've tried to involve former players as much as possible.