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Mature Rooney ready to lead

England striker Wayne Rooney said he deserves the captaincy for Friday’s World Cup qualifier against San Marino.

The 26-year-old will take the armband due to Steven Gerrard’s absence through suspension and vice captain Frank Lampard’s withdrawal through injury.

And he insists he is ready for the responsibility, having learned from his mistakes and due to his experience as captain at club level.

“I’ve captained United a few times in the Champions League and different competitions,” Rooney told The Mirror.

“I know it’s a great responsibility for me to take, but I feel I’ve matured as a player in my game. I feel I’ve learned the game better, and have a different style.

“Whatever the manager asks me to do, I can do it. Hopefully I can help the players and myself.

“Of course, I know now there is more responsibility on the pitch for me not to do what I did against Montenegro (being sent off).

“That was a stupid thing to do, and I regretted it as soon as I’d done it. I apologised and paid the price. It won’t be happening again, I can promise.

“After that, at club level, you saw a different person. I cut out a lot of the silly tackles and mistakes I made as a young player. I have no issue with that.”

Rooney hit the headlines at the 2010 World Cup after lashing out at booing fans on camera following a disappointing 0-0 draw with Algeria, but he blames himself for the incident.

“That was partly to do with my own performance. I was looking for a way to justify it. The England fans have been great,” Rooney added.

“They’re always there in their thousands. Since then, I’m a different player.

“I’ve matured more as a player and a person. You realise you don’t want to make the wrong type of headlines and miss games you don’t want to be missing.”

The former Everton striker also cited Roy Keane and current full-time England skipper Gerrard as the biggest inspirations for him as a leader.

“Roy Keane was a big captain for me. Seeing how he played on the pitch and dealt with things off it,” he said.

“He was vocal on the pitch and helped me off it. He was a great captain.

“I had a few rucks with him, we had a few debates – but that was because we wanted to win. I wasn’t scared, not fearful. I respected him.

“But also Steven Gerrard, his determination as a player. I’ve seen his passion and desire to play for Liverpool and England, and that’s fantastic. He’s certainly been an inspiration in my career.

“So I don’t think I’m going to change my attitude because I’m wearing the armband.

“I’m quite vocal on the pitch, and tend to play with determination which I hope can lift players and fans.”

Fri 12 October, 2012
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