Rooney downplays impact on England as return looms
Built up as the player to strengthen England’s attack, Wayne
Rooney is trying to downplay the impact he can make at the European
The striker has been a frustrated fan for England’s first two
matches, sitting out the draw against France and victory over
Sweden because of suspension.
Now he’s preparing to walk back into the starting lineup for the
Group D finale against Ukraine on Tuesday, with coach Roy Hodgson
playing up how he can make ”life a little bit easier” for the
A draw against the co-hosts would be enough to steer England
into the quarterfinals and Rooney would prefer if the attention
wasn’t on him.
”I don’t put that pressure on myself,” Rooney said Sunday.
”There are 23 players in the squad and there’s pressure on us all
… I’m not going to win the Euros on my own. There are 23 players
who are going to contribute to try to help us win the tournament or
go as far as we can.”
Rooney, who scored 35 goals for Manchester United last season,
will be making sure he isn’t forced to sit in the stands again.
”When you’re watching the game, it’s more difficult than
playing,” he said. ”When you’re playing, you can always do
something to try to change the game, or you always feel that you
can help the team win. Obviously, sitting in the stands, then
there’s nothing you can do. You can only talk, so I think it’s a
bit more difficult watching.”
Rooney was banned by UEFA for kicking a Montenegro player in the
final Euro 2012 qualifier in October, but now insists his
aggression is under control, having received just one yellow card
since then playing for United.
”What happened was a mistake, I understood that and apologized
to the guy (Miodrag Dzudovic),” Rooney said. ”That’s fine. I’ve
paid the price. I’ve had to take it. And I have no problems with my
attitude or my temperament.”
But his absence gave strikers Danny Welbeck and Andy Carroll a
platform to shine against Sweden on Friday, with both scoring in
the 3-2 victory. Theo Walcott also scored.
While Hodgson has said Welbeck or Carroll will lose their place
against Ukraine, Rooney knows he can’t take his own spot in the
team for granted.
”The forwards have done well in the games, it’s great for me as
well,” he said. ”It’s great competition. You know you need to be
at your best to get in the team … there’s four good strikers
there (including Jermain Defoe) and we’ll all fight for one or two
places. You have to make sure when you do play that you do
But Rooney has failed to fulfill his potential at major
championships since bursting onto the international scene with four
goals at Euro 2004 as an 18-year-old, failing to score at the 2006
and 2010 World Cups.
But with the affable Hodgson replacing the disciplinarian Fabio
Capello as coach, Rooney is finding life in the England camp more
”I think it helps everyone being English,” he said. ”There
are no words lost in translation and we understand what the manager
wants from us.”
Rooney said Hodgson trusts his players and has given them a lot
of rest time.
”We understand what we have to do,” Rooney said. ”It’s good
for the players to relax and obviously put football aside for even
just one afternoon. It’s good to give your mind a rest as
Rob Harris can be reached at http://twitter.com/RobHarris