"Being back at Wembley, in front of the home fans. they gave me a great reception", said Rooney.
There will be widespread changes when Croatia visit in the winner-takes-all Nations League encounter at Wembley, where Rooney's speech saved the players from a critical post-match debrief on Thursday night.
The U.S. national team's gap year is nearing an end, and the loss to England piled on yet more evidence for why this interminable transitional chapter needs to come to a close.
The decision to honour Rooney with a retirement match had divided opinion but it was his introduction in the 58th minute that got the loudest ovation.
"If I had scored it would have opened a whole other debate about whether that goal should have counted or not, so it was probably a good thing I didn't!" he said.
Kane didn't get the chance to add to his 19 global goals as Southgate prioritised keeping most of his key players fresh for Croatia's visit on Sunday.
"My youngest son has never seen me play for England, so tonight was the first and the last".More news: Kim Porter Passes Away At 47
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The match against U.S., the country in which Rooney now plies his trade, gave England fans the opportunity to show their appreciation for their country's record goalscorer and most-capped male outfield player.
England's former captain was also honoured before kick-off with a guard of honour and the presentation of a plaque bearing a golden Three Lions badge by current skipper Harry Kane.
The 33-year-old is now plying his trade over in the States with DC United, where he has settled in brilliantly. You have got time to do TV, if that is the way you want to go.
Bournemouth's Callum Wilson scored England's third goal in his worldwide debut and the Three Lions clinched a comfortable win ahead of Sunday's game against Croatia.
Sancho has quickly made a name for himself at Borussia Dortmund and the 18-year-old built on his fine Bundesliga form by teeing up Alexander-Arnold to drill his first worldwide goal into the far corner.
There was a huge cheer when Rooney made his final entrance in an England shirt replacing Jesse Lingard, for his 120th and last cap.