Lothar Matthaus has backed Wayne Rooney to thrive in the number 10 role for England after being revitalised by Jose Mourinho at Manchester United.
Rooney’s international future came under intense speculation after Euro 2016 when he was deployed in midfield by Roy Hodgson, a role he also occupied under Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford.
Matthaus was one of those calling on Rooney to retire from England duty, but he admits the 30-year-old has proved him wrong – albeit with the help of Mourinho.
The England skipper has played in a support role behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic this season and Sam Allardyce has already confirmed he will be used in a similar position for the Three Lions.
“A lot has changed since, most importantly at United under Jose Mourinho, and I think it was right for Sam Allardyce to hand him the captain’s armband for the World Cup campaign,” Matthaus told The Sun.
“Working with Mourinho is helping him. When they talk about football, it will be in a language he understands because that is how Mourinho tries to form a bond with his important players.
“From a distance, it didn’t look as if Rooney and Louis van Gaal had a great relationship but Mourinho knows how to treat superstars.
“It means Rooney comes back into the international set-up with a different mindset and approach.”
The German World Cup winner added: “Rooney should be playing at number 10. He should never have played in that deep role – you could tell he simply didn’t know what it was about.
“Rooney has known the position from a young age and can continue to score goals and play for two more years.
“He still has a lot of quality and in a young team his experience can be important. Mourinho wants him to be a leader of his team and Allardyce will be the same.”
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