Rooney: I'll lead England to Euros glory
Published 02/09/2014 | 23:35
A cloud of pessimism may currently hang over the national side, but Wayne Rooney is convinced he can lead England to their first trophy in half a century.
Rooney has captained England on two occasions before, but on Wednesday night the feeling will be different when he leads the team up the tunnel and out on to the Wembley turf to face Norway.
The Manchester United striker said it was a "dream" to captain his country, but the few weeks that preceded his appointment were something of a nightmare for the 28-year-old and his England team-mates.
Rooney's place in the side was thrown into question after a number of below-par displays in the build-up to the World Cup, and, six days after their first game in Brazil, England were condemned to an early exit.
A wave of apathy swept the nation and, as a result, only 40,000 fans will be at Wembley on Wednesday to watch Rooney's first game as full-time captain.
The supporters may hold little hope, but Rooney insists the idea of England going on to win Euro 2016 is not just pure fantasy.
"I've always said I don't want to finish my career with England having not won anything," said Rooney, who was also appointed club captain three weeks ago.
"I've always wanted to win a trophy with England, and if I can lead us to do that, that'll be the pinnacle of my career.
"That will be very difficult, but I really do think it's achievable.
"Look at the players we've got. They're exciting players. They have to do what they do for their clubs with England, and we have to bring that together.
"Of course it's very difficult - it is for any country but that has to be our aim. It's pointless not having that as your aim or your desire."
Norway defender Vegard Forren, like a heavyweight boxer trying to promote a fight, stirred some interest in the friendly by branding Rooney "a bit chubby" in an interview with Norwegian broadcaster TV2.no.
Roy Hodgson, sat next to Rooney at his pre-match press conference, disagreed.
"I think Wayne is in fantastic physical condition," the England manager said.
Rooney brushed off the comments, saying: "To be honest, I'm not really too interested."
Ten years ago, Rooney would have probably delivered a different answer - one that would not have been too kind to Forren.
Now the striker is a much different animal. He is 28 years old, he has two children and a wife.
He does not seem the kind of man who would lash out at an opponent as he did against Montenegro and Portugal, or criticise England fans for booing their team after a 0-0 draw against Algeria.
Rooney says his bad-boy days are behind him and he has no problem about taking centre stage.
"I'm sure the scrutiny will go up a notch, but I've dealt with a lot in my career and I'm ready. It's my time," he said.
"I've played a lot of games for United and England, and I'm ready to accept that responsibility.
"You have to be an ambassador, take the responsibility and be a role model for young kids. That's what I want to do. I had a few issues in my young days, but they're behind me now."
The former Everton man said he would be a "demanding" skipper, but one that will have to alter his vocal approach at times and be "softer" with some members of a squad now short on experience following the retirement of Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole.
Aware he is approaching his thirties, Rooney admits he will probably have to change his position too in the coming years and drop into a midfield role.
The arrival of Radamel Falcao at Manchester United has led some to suggest Rooney will be deployed in midfield this season, but the player is unaware of Louis van Gaal's immediate plans for him.
"I think on the back end of my career, I'll play there. But in terms of now, I'm not sure. We'll have to wait and see," Rooney said.
"I certainly feel I'm capable of dropping back (into midfield). I'm sure one day I will. That's down to my two managers now and me speaking to them."