Ahead of a much hyped return to the England team, Wayne Rooney shares his thoughts about Euro 2012, England and how he's matured as a player in this revealing Q&A...
For Wayne Rooney Euro 2012 starts tonight against Ukraine, and for the talisman it's a chance for redemption. In anticipation of Wayne's inclusion in the starting line-up, Nike have released a short film titled 'Blue Eyes Is Back' in which Rooney reflects on his achievements and disappointments. It's a more mature, considered and focused player that's preparing to step-out for England and who comes through in this interview.
How does watching the likes of Welbeck and Carroll leading the line make you feel? Does
it fuel your hunger in training?
Wayne Rooney: I’m happy for them. I know what’s it’s like to be part of the squad as a young player and it’s a great
experience and will make them better players. I am training very hard though to get back and
perform for my country.
In terms of your mental preparation, is it different now compared to when you first played
WR: I am more experienced now and know much more what to expect. The hunger is always there and
there’s no better feeling than wearing the shirt. I can’t wait to get out there and contribute.
Is there anything in particular you do before a big game to motivate yourself?
WR: When you’re playing for your country and the fans’ motivation is huge and always there. It’s the
biggest stage and I’m always motivated for these massive games. You just want to get out there and
Does the hunger of the new players such as Welbeck and Oxlade-Chaimberlain bring a
different dimension to preparation for and at this tournament?
WR: The squad is well balanced with experience and youth. The young players bring great energy and
fresh ideas. They have no fear and maybe other teams don’t know so much about them which can
be an advantage. You also need experience to do well in tournaments and we have lots of that too.
It’s strange but I suppose I’m one of those senior players now and I’ll be helping the young players as
much as I can.
How have the highs and lows in your career helped you deal with preparation for this
WR: It comes down to experience. You can learn more from the lows than the highs. The highs are great
but the lows make you really look at things in a different way and want to improve. Every player will
have both in their careers and I have, but what you get is that experience which is so important to
perform at your best.
The eyes of the world will be watching your return – how does that make you feel and
how do you cope with that?
WR: I’ve worked hard and focussed and am desperate to play, obviously the penalty I’ve paid for
Montenegro has come at a huge personal cost but I feel I can learn from the experience and further
improve as a player because of it.
How special does it feel to pull on the England shirt?
WR: Pulling on your country’s shirt is the greatest honour a footballer can have. It’s what I always
dreamed of as a kid and I get a buzz every time. We’re looking forward as a team is to doing
everything we can to perform and to make our fans happy and our country proud.
You’re well on your way to beating Sir Bobby Charlton’s international scoring record. Is
this a particular goal of yours? Have you ever spoken to him about it?
WR: I don’t really play to break personal records but of course I’m proud to have scored so many goals
for my country. To be mentioned in the same list as Sir Bobby is a huge honour but I don’t talk to
him about the record.
What kind of mood has the new manager created in the camp?
WR: The Manager is so experienced and knows what he wants from the players. The atmosphere is
buzzing and everybody is hungry to do well for him.
Has it made you more determined to play against Ukraine knowing that you wouldn’t be
playing in the France or Sweden matches?
WR: All I can do is focus my game for the Ukraine game. Hopefully the lads will have us in a position to
qualify and then if called on I will do what I can to help us progress. I’m not an easy watcher but will
be supporting the lads every step of the way and can’t wait to get my boots on.
Many people suggest playing for your country is not as important as it used to be. What do
you think? What sense of pride do you get in pulling on an England shirt?
WR: Playing for your country is the highest honour you can get as a player and it’s what every player
dreams of when they start playing the game. It’s the greatest feeling to pull on the shirt. I love it
every time and that will never leave me. You’re representing everybody back home and just want to
do your best for them and for the team.
How have you learned to keep your emotions in check in the run-up to during Euro 2012 to
try to avoid red and yellow cards?
WR: Experience. I’m only 26 but have been playing at the highest level for almost 10 years now. That
gives you experience which is so valuable and you get calmer and more considered as you get older
anyway. The Montenegro mistake was one I regret and it really hurts, but It’s something I must learn
from and move on. It makes me hungrier to perform and to be ready for my country when called on.
What's your opinion on Gary Neville coaching you for England? Was his appointment a
surprise to you?
WR: Gary is strong personality and had a huge influence at United when I was playing with him. He’s
great to have around the dressing room and will be a big help to the team and the younger players
in particular. I wasn’t surprised at all
because he’s been a great England player, he’s so experienced and has so much to pass on. He’s a real winner and will help make sure we’re all ready to perform.
Rooney was appearing as part of Nike's 'My Time Is Now' campaign, which celebrates iconic players and inspires young footballers. You can see the exclusive 'Blue Eyes Is Back' video here, and let us know what impact you think Rooney will have on Euro 2012? Share your thoughts and join the conversation online, on Twitter and on Facebook.