The Manchester United forward is not looking to forge his own legacy in Brazil this summer, but just wants to enjoy the tournament – unlike his last trips to the finals
England forward Wayne Rooney says that, unlike Cristiano Ronaldo, he is not out to write himself into the history books with individual acclaim at the World Cup.
After two difficult previous campaigns in the tournament, in which he has yet to score, the Manchester United man has taken steps to relax and enjoy it more this time around, having benefited from the Three Lions’ resident psychologist, Dr Steve Peters.
Though he admires his former team-mate, Ronaldo, for his drive for personal glory, Rooney would prefer to be part of a team effort.
“I’m not a player who needs [a legacy],” he told The Guardian. “Cristiano Ronaldo … he has to have that. You admire him for that. You can see how he is. He wants his moments.
“I’m more about winning as a team. It’s more important to me. I’ve won the PFA Player of the Year and it’s nowhere near as good as winning a trophy with Manchester United.
“I’ve spoken to [Dr Peters] a few times. I found him great and easy to talk to and he will be a big help.
“I’ve been putting myself under too much pressure [in previous tournaments]. Maybe the media have put me under a lot of pressure and I’ve tried to respond to that – this time I haven’t and I’m not going to.
“I’ve learned that I have to enjoy this one because, if I’m honest, I haven’t enjoyed the last ones. They’ve not gone well and, all of a sudden, you’re looking back, they’ve gone and you didn’t enjoy it. Regardless of what happens, I’m going to make sure I take positive memories from [this one] because there’s no point in doing it if you’re not enjoying it.
“I want to do well. I know that if I play well, the team will play well and I feel great, better than I have for years. I’m ready for this tournament. I’ve had time to prepare with the team. I’ve gone into previous tournaments with little niggles or different things but I’ve not missed a session this time.”
Italy are first up for Roy Hodgson’s side in Manaus on Saturday and Rooney feels that a high-tempo approach could give England a real chance of victory.
“The Italian defenders I’ve played against tend to read the game really well. They put themselves in good positions but, if I’m honest, when you play a high tempo against them, they struggle,” he observed.
“The Italian league is nowhere near the tempo of the Premier League. Even when we played AC Milan and [Alessandro] Nesta and [Paolo] Maldini were their centre-halves, they really struggled when we played a high tempo. If we can do that, I am sure we will give them problems.”