Rooney warns Russia they would be fools to write him off
England striker Wayne Rooney has hit back at claims from the Russian media that he is not the player he used to be.
The 30-year-old, who is England's all-time leading goalscorer, has played more of a midfield role this season for his club Manchester United.
It was put to him by a Russian journalist in today's press conference that Saturday's opening Euro 2016 opponents no longer fear Rooney, but the England captain was defiant in his response.
"Everyone who watches football is entitled to opinions," said Rooney.
"I know the qualities I have and I don't need to sit here and defend myself.
"I'm aware that my game has changed slightly over the years and in my opinion it has changed for the better, but the opinions that matter to me are those of my coaches."
Rooney became England's most prolific goalscorer in September when his strike against Switzerland took him to 50 goals for the Three Lions.
A knee injury in February put Rooney on the backfoot for the Euros, but the striker has returned to the England squad and has been assured of his starting place by manager Roy Hodgson.
The England manager has offered his backing to his captain several times in recent months and Rooney is confident he and his team-mates can repay his faith.
"We have to be resilient," said Rooney. "We know how important the first game is. It cost us two years ago (a 2-1 defeat to Italy in World Cup 2014) and in the first game it's important to get off to a good start.
"We've talked about that as a group of players and we are ready for the game tomorrow night.
"You can feel the buzz around the place, everyone is excited for this game and it's important we go in and take our performance levels into the game and get off to a good start.
"We have a very talented squad that are capable of big things but tournament football is different so I think it's a big challenge for us as a squad and we're hoping and we believe we can do well.