Rooney out to prove point on Euro return
Wayne Rooney is determined to make a point as well as take a point when he returns from suspension to spearhead England's bid to reach the Euro 2012 quarter-finals against Ukraine on Tuesday.
England need only a draw in a tricky final Group D game against the co-hosts to book their place in the last eight.
But while Rooney's priority will be making sure England get the result they need to progress, the 26-year-old Manchester United striker is also keen to atone for his failure to shine at recent major tournaments.
Rooney's explosive entrance to international football at Euro 2004 remains the highpoint of his England career, which has been characterised by serial disappointment ever since.
He was sent off as England bowed out at the quarter-final stage of the 2006 World Cup before flopping four years later in South Africa, a tournament where he had been tipped to shine.
It has left Rooney with a sense of unfinished business as he prepares to spearhead England's attack against the Ukrainians.
"I think my last goal in a tournament was at Euro 2004," Rooney said. "But I feel I'm a better player now and I'm capable of more, so I'm hoping I can play and score on Tuesday. I feel there is more to come from me.
"I set myself high standards. I work hard to better my game and score goals. In international tournaments I haven't been good enough.
"It's something I hope I can put right. I'm not going to say I will, because you never know what's going to happen. But hopefully if I can do that it will give the team a good chance of going far in the competition."
An older and wiser Rooney is philosophical about the disappointments that dogged his displays in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.
"As a player you have bad moments but I think sometimes you have to go through those moments to experience the good moments," he said.
"Those things that happened in the past -- I don't want them to happen. No-one wants them to happen. But they happened and you have to get on with it.
"I'm hoping I can do my best and help the team be successful. I'm hoping that if I can play well and score goals then we'll have a chance."
At Euro 2004, an 18-year-old Rooney terrorised opposition defences and scored four goals before limping off injured in the quarter-finals.
The England striker now believes his youthful fearlessness has been replaced by a more calculating football brain.
"In 2004 I was 18 and you probably don't know the game as well as you think you do so you're playing on instinct a lot of the time. There's a rawness," he said.
"But the older you get you have to change your game. You see things differently and I've tried to do that. It's paid off at club level but not so much at international level. So hopefully I can do that this time."
Since his sending off against Montenegro last October, when he inexplicably lashed out at defender Miodrag Dzudovic, Rooney has steered largely clear of disciplinary strife, picking up only one yellow card in the matches since.
However he insists he has made no conscious effort to improve his behaviour and remains baffled by his moment of madness in Montenegro.
"I've been asked a few times what happened (in Montenegro) and I honestly can't explain it," he reflected
"It was similar to the red card in 2006 (at the World Cup). It happened. It's not something I set out to do. I didn't think 'I'm going to kick this player'. It happened. I understood straightaway that it was a mistake and a red card.
"I've had to take my punishment. I've no complaints with the ban. So I'm just happy now that I'm finally available to play and hopefully do well."
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