Wayne Rooney believes the England squad for Euro 2016 has the potential to the best he has played in.
The country’s captain and record goalscorer made his debut in February 2003 and has already played in five major tournaments, with his sixth now under a week away.
Rooney, 30, feels the current squad for the tournament in France could top all of the others, but insists they need to learn more about the dark arts of the game from some of their opponents.
“This squad has the potential to be the best one I have played in,” he told reporters.
“I think the future for the England national team is really bright. It can get off to a spectacular start this summer.
“We know we have got a good squad of players now but we have to perform. We can’t expect to go to France with a good squad of players and think it’s all going to happen, that it’s going to be given to us. We know teams will try and stop us and make it difficult.”
England won their final warm-up game for the Euros 1-0 against 10-man Portugal, who had Bruno Alves sent off for a crazily high first-half challenge on Harry Kane, although the Tottenham striker attempted to stay on his feet.
Rooney praised Kane’s honesty, but feels there are elements of the styles deployed by foreign sides that England can pick up on as they develop.
The Manchester United skipper added: “We need to understand and manage the game better – it is normal, that comes with experience.
“Whether it is stopping a quick free-kick, or – I’m not saying anything bad about foreign players – but they do it naturally better in terms of staying on the ground a bit longer, and almost making a decision for the referee which we have not been brought up to do.
“It is a big difference for us to do that. Harry had seen his opportunity, I think if the referee had played on, we might have went on and scored. In the past we have always been an honest team, an honest country.”
England’s reached the semi-finals in Euro 96 and Rooney called on his team-mates to seize the opportunity to be recognised alongside Terry Venables’ team from that era.
“It is as if they won the tournament – the way they are remembered for it,” he said when asked about a recent BBC documentary looking back at the tournament.
“So imagine if we can go one better and win it. We would be remembered. It is a challenge for us, of course and, hopefully, we can do it.”
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