No let-up for new dad Rooney
Published 12/11/2009 | 15:52
Wayne Rooney might be enjoying his first couple of weeks as a new dad - but it does not seem to have diminished his appetite for success on the football field.
Just 10 days after wife Coleen gave birth to their first son, Kai Wayne, Rooney headed out to Doha for England's high-profile friendly with five-times world champions Brazil.
Fabio Capello has already received a number of call-offs from senior men, including Steven Gerrard and Rooney's Manchester United team-mate Rio Ferdinand, and presumably would not have minded too much if Rooney had followed suit.
But the 24-year-old did not have any intention of pulling out.
In fact, he was in action for United just 24 hours after Kai's birth - and was disappointed only to be a substitute in the 3-3 Champions League draw with CSKA Moscow.
"I don't feel any different and nothing really changes for me. I just want to play," said Rooney.
"I went and spoke to the manager on Tuesday morning and asked him if I could play because I would rather do that than sit on the bench.
"I thought I was going to play too. I only found out just before the game that I was on the bench."
With so many players missing, it is pretty certain Rooney will not be on the bench this weekend.
Having missed out on playing the world's most popular team when they came to open the 'new' Wembley two years ago, Rooney does not want to miss another opportunity given the legends he has grown up watching, just like every other football-mad kid in the country.
"Romario and Ronaldo are the ones I remember most," he said.
"Ronaldo was one of the best, if not the best, forward ever.
"When he was at Barcelona, the things he did were incredible. In later years it was Ronaldinho and Kaka, who have both been world player of the year.
"When you look at the players they have had at various times it is unbelievable and I have always wanted to play against them.
"As a football fan, you grow up enjoying watching them play. To have an opportunity to play against them is something else entirely."
Apart from the glamour - and repaying Brazil the favour they owed for that Wembley christening - there is clearly a serious side to the game as well.
Having qualified for the World Cup with nine wins from their 10 Group Six games, Capello needs to know where his England team stands.
Defeat to France in his second game in charge 20 months ago proved to be a useful staging post.
Over the new year, England defeated Germany in Berlin before losing to Spain in Seville and then drawing with Holland in Amsterdam at the start of this season.
The Germany game was similar to Saturday's in that Capello's side were shorn of a host of key men, just as they are now.
Frank Lampard's withdrawal due to a thigh injury picked up in training this morning means only three of what constitutes Capello's first choice line-up will be available; Rooney, Gareth Barry and skipper John Terry.
The plus side is that a number of fringe players will have a chance to impress - most notably Rooney's Manchester United team-mate Wes Brown, England's one remaining right-back and a regular starter for Capello until injury stalled his career once more last September.
And, one suspects, it is those fringe players who will provide the added impetus Rooney feels is needed if England are to claim world supremacy in Johannesburg on July 11.
"We are doing quite well," he reflected.
"We have played better in the qualifiers than we have in the friendlies but this is another chance to see how far we have come.
"We have definitely got world-class players and we are in with a chance.
"It does hurt when you see the players we have had over the years and we have not won it. We are trying to put it right.
"But there is a lot of hard work in front of us and it is going to take a lot of improvement if we are going to win the World Cup."