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Liverpool FC captain Steven Gerrard tips Wayne Rooney to be World Cup's big star
Published : 11 Jun 2010 06:50:00
STEVEN GERRARD has tipped Wayne Rooney to become the World Cup's biggest star. Rooney will carry England's fortunes on his shoulders in South Africa following a superb season at Manchester United that elevated him to the group of elite players now regarded as the best on the planet. It is 24 years since a single individual dominated the World Cup, when Diego Maradona led Argentina's march to glory. Pele had a similar impact in 1970 and although Johann Cruyff did not actually finish the tournament as a winner four years later, his contribution to a brilliant Dutch outfit will be remembered long after the fact they only ended up as runners-up. Lionel Messi has been talked about as a potential successor to those legends, whilst Cristiano Ronaldo's contribution is eagerly anticipated, even if Portugal are not tipped as likely winners. However, for Gerrard, Rooney is the main man. And the England captain feels the time is right for his fellow Scouser to step forward and make the World Cup his own. 'He is in a position to do that,' said Gerrard. 'Wayne's confidence is sky high. Physically he is in great shape and is coming off the back of an unbelievable season, probably his best. 'He is in the category of the best players and the stage is set for him to deliver because he can be England's main man and he can shoot us to glory, and the players around him make sure he's aware of it.' Maradona is the obvious example of someone who had a dark side to his character. No-one could accuse Rooney of even getting close to approaching the current Argentina coach's many excesses but there is a combustible element to his game that remains, despite the hard work he has put in trying to curb it. It came to the fore again in Monday's practice match against the Platinum Stars and when FIFA official Alex Stone delivered his warning players who cross the boundaries of acceptability with their choice of language are risking getting themselves sent off, Rooney's was the name that quickly came to mind. But Gerrard can see no requirement for the 24-year-old to reproach himself.