Oct 10 2012
Wayne Rooney is ready to assume the 'Eric Cantona role' for England and help to nurture his young team-mates.
Now 26 and with 76 caps to his name, Rooney can be regarded as one of the most experienced players within Roy Hodgson's squad. And, with Steven Gerrard suspended and Frank Lampard struggling to overcome a knee injury, Rooney is in line to captain his country for the first time in a competitive game when they take on San Marino on Friday.
"There are a lot of young players in the squad and I always try to speak to them and offer advice," said Rooney. "I remember Alex Ferguson telling me what a big help Cantona was to all those younger players at United. It is something I can try to do for England and hopefully help bring the best out of them, as they can bring the best out of me."
The odd indiscretion excepted, Rooney has matured hugely over the past few years.
It is certainly hard to imagine the Merseysider landing himself in the kind of mess Ashley Cole has got himself into when communicating on Twitter.
Rooney has in excess of five million followers, the highest figure for a British sports star.
"It is a good way for the fans to see a different side of you," he said.
"I don't try and get involved because you do get a bit of stick on it and obviously, I know everything I put on there is seen by everyone who follows you and it will be in the newspapers the next day, so I have to be careful.
"I didn't go on it to see how many followers I could get. But it is incredible the amount of support I get."