Wayne Rooney yesterday became the first senior England player to back John Terry after his sacking as captain, but the Manchester United man warned that the country's top players do have a responsibility to act as role models and modify their behaviour in their private lives.
WAYNE Rooney yesterday became the first senior England player to back John Terry after his sacking as captain, but the Manchester United man warned that the country's top players do have a responsibility to act as role models and modify their behaviour in their private lives.
There will not have been a long queue of England players willing to face the press after such a tumultuous five weeks for the team but Rooney gave Terry the endorsement the Football Association were hoping for. Fabio Capello and his employers were eager for a senior player to back Terry in order to draw some kind of line under the fallout from Terry's alleged affair with Wayne Bridge's ex-fiancee Vanessa Perroncel.
Rooney duly obliged, responding to the question about the England players' attitude towards Terry that the squad were “happy to have him around.” Rooney did not comment on the specifics of the Terry-Bridge saga, instead saying: “He is a great player, if we are going to win the World Cup then we need John Terry. He is a big player for us and we need him.”
There is also a fear at the FA that Terry will be booed by England fans when he appears at Wembley tomorrow in the friendly against Egypt, a fate that has befallen Owen Hargreaves, Peter Crouch and Ashley Cole at various times both at the national stadium and in internationals at Old Trafford. Rooney appealed to supporters not to turn upon the former England captain.
“I hope the fans don't boo him,” he said. “I have played in England teams when some of our own players have been booed. It is not nice for the whole team, not just the player who has been booed. When you are leading up to a World Cup you want the fans behind you and giving you their whole support. I think that will be really important so I hope he gets a good reception.”
Rooney said that he will be fit to play tomorrow, having taken a kick to his knee this month. He had complained of pain after the Carling Cup final on Sunday but a scan yesterday showed no significant damage. Having once committed some infamous teenage indiscretions off the pitch, Rooney is now in the unusual position of reminding the squad of their responsibilities off the pitch.
The 24-year-old said that he had calmed down his lifestyle with marriage and fatherhood. He said: “It is difficult. As a footballer you know people look up to you. You are role models whether you like it or not. You need to try and be aware of that and try and do your best on the pitch and try and do things well for kids to see.
“When I first joined Manchester United I used to go out to nightclubs, but it is very rare that I would go out to a nightclub now. It changes with age. I made that decision myself. I got into a few things that I shouldn't have and I tried to change that. I am settled at home now. It's good.”