Hodgson hopes Rooney emulates Pele

Hodgson hopes Rooney emulates Pele

Published Jun. 19, 2012 1:00 a.m. ET

England coach Roy Hodgson is hoping Wayne Rooney can emulate Pele as he prepares to make his return to action.

Hodgson has confirmed Manchester United striker Rooney will start for the Three Lions in their final Euro 2012 group game against co-hosts Ukraine after serving a two-match suspension.

And Hodgson is hoping Rooney can have a huge impact on Euro 2012, and like Pele can come to the fore in big tournaments for his country.

"If you look back through the years, if you take Pele for example, he was capable of producing his very best football when it really mattered to help Brazil win World Cups," said Hodgson.


"Let's hope that Wayne Rooney can start to do that for us and then, if we win, who knows? If Wayne can produce his best, he can help us keep going even further.

"Everyone knows what Wayne Rooney's all about. He makes us more threatening going forward.

"He's a world-class player and I can see it in his eyes that he's itching to get out there and perform. He could, hopefully, make the difference."

Hodgson has welcomed the growing anticipation of Euro 2012 success.

After leaving for Poland and Ukraine amid such low expectations, England's opening two performances have triggered far more optimism.

A point from their meeting with Ukraine is still required to ease their passage into the last eight but it does appear Hodgson has fashioned a real sense of purpose in his squad.

However, rather than shy away from it, Fabio Capello's successor wants to embrace the hype, dismissing the idea of a fear factor taking hold.

"It's not just England who haven't always performed when the expectations were heightened," said Hodgson.

"There's quite a few teams that have failed. It's a fact of life. We've come here with the England national team. We believe in ourselves and we want to do well.

"In some ways it's rather nice that people back home are hoping and even believing we can do well, and we're giving them something to dream about and cling onto."