Rooney 'happy to play' after prostitute claims
Published 06/09/2010 | 16:54
Wayne Rooney is "happy to play" for England tomorrow despite lurid headlines about his private life, manager Fabio Capello said.
The player flew to Switzerland with the squad following allegations that he had sex with a prostitute while his wife Coleen was pregnant with their first child.
At a press conference in Basel, Capello insisted that all the players remained "focused on the game" ahead of tomorrow's Euro qualifier.
Rooney, 24, who appeared grim-faced as he jetted off with the rest of the team from Luton Airport, has so far made no comment about the allegations.
But ahead of the second qualifier in the group stage, Capello suggested that the claims would not affect his game.
The 64-year-old Italian said: "He told me he is ready to play, he wants to play and I'm sure that he will play tomorrow."
The England team manager added: "I spoke to him and he is happy to play."
Asked about the impact on the team ahead of tomorrow's match, Capello said: "We are focused on the game, not about the private lives of the players."
England captain Steven Gerrard gave his support to Rooney during the press conference.
The Liverpool midfielder said of his international teammate: "Wayne is a big character. I have known him for a long time, he loves playing football.
"Yeah, he has an issue off the pitch but that will not stop him playing well tomorrow night."
Gerrard continued: "I think every player does understand the responsibility of being a footballer at the top level.
"On the other hand, we are human as well and along the way we are going to make mistakes.
"I have made some throughout my career, we are human as well. It is just how you react to those mistakes."
On the back of a well-received performance during Friday's game against Bulgaria, Rooney is seen as central to England's attempts to progress to the European Championship finals.
But it is feared that the latest allegations, first carried by tabloid newspapers over the weekend, might affect the form of England's talisman.
There is also the possibility that if proven, the alleged relationship with a prostitute may see the player lose lucrative sponsorship deals.
But publicist Max Clifford said that as long as he kept scoring goals the fans would not care.
Mr Clifford said: "The only thing Wayne Rooney has to worry about is his wife, whether she, like all the others, is prepared to accept her husband's alleged infidelities.
"Nobody in football gives a monkey's as long as he's winning on the pitch."
Mr Clifford said Rooney's sponsors were also likely to stick with the player, adding: "Will it stop people drinking Tiger Beer? No. Will it stop people buying Coca Cola? No. Will it stop parents buying Nike for their children? No."
A spokesman for electronic game firm EA Sports, one of Rooney's sponsors, said yesterday: "This is a personal matter and we respect Wayne and his family's privacy.
"We have worked together for six years and Wayne continues to represent EA Sports. We will be making no further comment at this time."