Rooney looks at shrink to grow in his England role
Wayne Rooney hopes Dr Steve Peters will help him end his nightmare World Cup run.
When Rooney lit up Euro 2004 as a dynamic, 17-year-old forward, he was hailed as England’s best player for decades. Sven-Goran Eriksson likened him to Pele.
But, 10 years on, Rooney’s World Cup finals record reads: played eight, scored none.
This being a World Cup year, Rooney has been reminded of that statistic many times and, not only did he take two fitness coaches to Portugal on a week-long holiday, he also plans to speak to Peters in the hope that the team psychiatrist can help him deal with the pressure of a World Cup.
Peters has made a major impact with Britain’s top cyclists, on snooker star Ronnie O’Sullivan, and on Brendan Rodgers’s Liverpool team.
“I’ll certainly go and speak to him and see if it can benefit me. There’s no harm in doing that,” Rooney said. “I’ve never done something like that before but it’s interesting and if it can give you an extra couple of per cent, then it’s worth doing.
“When you’re going into a tournament, you believe you’re going to do well, so you don’t really feel that pressure, but maybe inside you are feeling it, which you don’t realise.
“After hearing what Peters said to us, I feel it might benefit me.”
Despite the emergence of Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling, the pressure will be on Rooney more than ever in Brazil because he knows this is the last World Cup of his peak years.
Rooney does not want to let down his countrymen.
“I’ve been here before and I’ve said I can deliver and it hasn’t happened,” he said. “I want to prove myself at this level, which I haven’t been able to do before. There will be no excuses this time if I don’t perform.
“In 2018, I’ll be a bit older then so it will be difficult to impact that the way I believe I can do. So this is the really last big one that I feel will probably get the best out of me.”
In fairness to Rooney, both of his previous World Cup campaigns were hindered by injury – foot pain at Germany in 2006 and a baulky ankle at South Africa in 2010.
There was a worrying sense of deja vu when Rooney injured a groin and missed United’s final three games this season. Some recalled Sir Alex Ferguson’s claim that Rooney needs longer to recover from injuries than most players.
Rooney said he is preparing as best he can. “I’m really confident I’ll be in the best shape I can when the World Cup starts,” he said.
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Published: May 23, 2014 04:00 AM