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Thorpe inspires Rooney to dream of World Cup glory

BURTON, England, October 10 – Wayne Rooney hopes he is ready to finally perform at his best for England after being inspired by the words of Olympic swimming legend Ian Thorpe.

The Manchester United forward is back in the England squad for Friday’s World Cup qualifier against San Marino after recovering from a gashed thigh he suffered playing for his club in August.

The Wembley match also marks his first international since an uninspiring Euro 2012, for which he was initially suspended.

A widely-reported pre-tournament holiday Las Vegas, while he was injured, did not go down well either.

He was later accused by former England manager Fabio Capello of only playing his best football for United, but while accepting the nature of the criticism he has received for his international displays, Rooney insisted his lack of success has not been for want of effort.

Speaking at the Football Association’s new St George’s Park National Football Centre, Rooney claimed he did not see the Capello comments, but admitted: “I can understand and see where people are coming from. But I wasn’t in Vegas going out every night drinking and partying. Obviously I went out one night and that was seen.

“I couldn’t train anyway. That is why I had the extra time off. I had to have something done to my toe. It was just a way to relax before I came into training but obviously I can understand.

“I’d have liked to have played better for England. For whatever reasons it hasn’t happened but I can hold my head up high and say I’ve always worked hard, given everything and I’ll continue to do that. Hopefully it will come off for us one day.

“I am a confident person. Looking back at games and tournaments, and I know I can do better.

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“It’s great to play for your country, a great honour, I think I haven’t played at my best but being honest as a team we can do better.

“I am not going to win a tournament on my own. We need the whole team. There have been times when we can do better as a team, and times where we have been unlucky. If one of those goes the other way you never know what will happen.”

The training centre features photos of international legends such as Bobby Moore and the rest of England’s 1966 winning World Cup side.

It is also adorned with inspirational quotes such as Australian swimmer Thorpe’s, which reads: ‘Losing is not coming second. It’s getting out of the water knowing you could have done better.’

“I think the place is inspirational,” Rooney said. “Walking round you see all the history of England and pictures up and the Ian Thorpe quote stuck in my mind – I think it’s quite good.

“I always try to give everything and leave everything on the pitch. Sometimes it happens where you don’t play well but you have tried.

“I always feel like I have given everything, whether I have played well or badly. I always try to come off exhausted.”

Rooney, 26, also acknowledges he is now one of the senior England players having scored 29 goals in 76 appearances.

He could even lead out the side if Chelsea’s Frank Lampard does not recover from a knock while regular captain Steven Gerrard is suspended.

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He added: “I haven’t heard anything. It’s down to the manager. He hasn’t said anything. If I do it will be a great honour to captain my country at Wembley, something I will be really proud of.

“I hope I can show my leadership qualities as a senior player. Especially with a lot of young players in the squad.

“I always try to speak to them and offer advice. I always remember Alex Ferguson says what a big help Eric Cantona was to all those younger players at United.

“Hopefully I can bring the best out of them and they can bring the best out of me as well.”

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