Wayne Rooney has been warned by the South African referee who took charge of England's final World Cup warm-up game yesterday that he risks being sent off in the tournament after swearing at the official during England's 3-0 win over the Platinum Stars.
Rooney was booked for dissent by referee Jeff Selogilwe as England laboured against a team of relative unknowns, especially in the first half when Fabio Capello exchanged angry words with the female fourth official.
Selogilwe said: “Rooney insulted me, he said: ‘F--- you.' He is a good player when you see him on the television, but when you see him on the pitch, he just keeps on insulting the referees. To me, it looks like Rooney insults people and fouls other players. If he insults a referee like me, then he will use that vulgar language to other referees as well.
“He must learn to control his temper. He could get sent off in the World Cup, especially if he uses this kind of language. Maybe the England players underestimated this game and thought: 'this is just a friendly, we can do what we like and the referees are not that professional'.
“I was very disappointed in Rooney because he is my favourite player. He is still my favourite player. He apologised to me and gave me the shirt he was wearing.”
Having taken the lead through Jermain Defoe in the first half, England looked as if they would steamroller their opposition but ran into problems and struggled to achieve any fluency in their passing. Platinum Stars even won a penalty with the score at 1-0 but striker Bradley Grobler struck his shot over the bar. Defoe admitted afterwards that Capello “wasn't happy with the performance in the first half”.
There was some improvement in the second half with Joe Cole and Rooney scoring, but England will need to be much better when they face USA on Saturday.
Rooney, temper and all, says he cannot wait for the World Cup to begin.
“I just can't wait now,” he said. “The sooner it comes, the better.”
There were a few hints at Capello's likely starting line-up at the weekend, with Emile Heskey partnering Rooney after the interval.
Cole played on the left, while skipper's Steven Gerrard partnership with Frank Lampard in central midfield at the start looked as though it was a fairly definitive statement on England's engine room.
At the back, Ledley King was matched up with old friend John Terry at the heart of England's defence.
Given King's relatively infrequent appearances, either on the training ground or in a match, Joe Hart's presence in goal, without having started a game for his country, was intriguing, although Robert Green was between the sticks for the Tottenham captain's last appearance against Mexico at Wembley last month.
Not that yesterday's performance was a triumph for anyone,
even if Rooney found reasons to be cheerful.
“It was a good run out,” he said.
“We needed to get the game in and to play 45 minutes felt good so I was happy.
“We got out of it what he needed. I would have liked to have got a bit more of a game but I was happy with the 45 minutes.”
Unfortunately, Rooney also picked up a booking for dissent and offered ammunition for Alexi Lalas, who has claimed the United States should attempt to wind England's star man up in the hope of distracting him from his overall objective.
Yet Defoe has no intention of calling for Rooney to curb his volatile temper.
“If under control, I think Wayne's temper is a good thing,” said the Tottenham star.
“He has that fire in his belly. If you take that away from him then he won't be the same player.”
The game was a success for the Football Association who invited local people in for free and drew an attendance of around 10,000. They invited 28 children from a local home to have T-shirts signed by the players on the pitch at the end of the game.
There had been fears over safety at the 20,000 capacity stadium after the stampede at a Nigeria friendly against North Korea on Sunday but the game passed off without incident. FA Communications chief Adrian Bevington said: “The FA are extremely grateful to General Mbembe of the South African police