Gerrard - Rooney plays on the edge
Published : 11 Jun 2010 16:58:58
Steven Gerrard has no doubt Wayne Rooney can dispel doubts over his temperament and become a major World Cup star.
Rooney heads into tomorrow night's World Cup opener with the United States carrying the hopes of a nation on his shoulders but also with fresh questions being raised about his on-pitch conduct following his stormy performance against the Platinum Stars on Monday.
But Gerrard has no fears for his long time friend. "People talk about the yellow card he got the other day but that is Wayne Rooney," said Gerrard. "He is always on the edge. He has got that fire in his belly."
FIFA official Alex Stone has already confirmed that the use of foul language will be regarded as a red and yellow card offence over the next five weeks and, having ended his last World Cup campaign by getting himself sent off against Portugal, Rooney needs to be careful it does not happen again.
Gerrard added: "I know Wayne. I know about his upbringing and his background. We have a good understanding on the pitch because we are quite close off it.
"If Wayne channels his frustrations in the right way he can be one of the players of this tournament."
A fit and focused Rooney would certainly be a significant presence within an England team that has been provided with a present from the front line by Armed Forces serving in Afghanistan. The Three Lions watched a specially made DVD wishing Gerrard and his team-mates good luck from Afghanistan.
"It was very moving and touching," said the England skipper.
"They were a mixture of ages, all passionate guys wearing all kinds of different shirts basically taking a couple of seconds each to wish us all the best.
"It made me realise how lucky I am to be here leading the team out in the World Cup. It puts everything into perspective and drives you when you realise what kind of support we have and it finally hit home that the matches are round the corner and the support back home is massive."