Wayne Rooney named England captain
Man United star takes over for retired Gerrard
Wayne Rooney was named England captain on Thursday, taking over the leadership role of an inexperienced team in a rebuilding phase following its worst-ever World Cup.
"He certainly deserves it, his commitment to the cause," England coach Roy Hodgson said at Wembley. "He is prepared to accept the pressures the England captaincy brings."
Hodgson confirmed the Manchester United player's appointment — from a small pool of potential captains — while naming the squad for England's first European Championship qualifier against Switzerland on Sept. 8 and a friendly against Norway on Wednesday.
Defenders Calum Chambers and Danny Rose, and midfielders Jack Colback and Fabian Delph were called up for the first time.
Rooney has been handed the symbolically prestigious captaincy role following Steven Gerrard's international retirement despite a rocky relationship in the past with fans, questions about his temperament following red cards on international duty, and facing criticism over indiscretions in his personal life.
"He has that baggage with him and he will have to accept that as a further part of the pressure," Hodgson said.
"It's wrong of me to read too much into the past and any misdemeanours he might have had in that time," the coach added. "In the two years he has been with me I have had no reason to question anything about him — his desire, his commitment."
The 28-year-old Rooney, who also recently assumed the United captaincy, wants past issues to be forgotten as England embarks on the road to Euro 2016.
"I hope that I will have the full backing of the fans," Rooney said. "I am their type of player once I am on that pitch. My only thought is to win and give everything I have got and that sharing that desire will be the way I want to captain the team."
Rooney has emerged as one of England's few leaders, growing in stature and confidence. But despite winning every major honour with Manchester United — from the Premier League to the Champions League — Rooney has never come close to collecting silverware in his 95 England appearances.
Although Rooney broke his World Cup goal drought at his third competition in June, England went out in the group stage with only one point.
Far much more was expected of Rooney after announcing himself on the international scene with a hat trick at Euro 2004, but too often the forward has distinguished himself in the wrong way in an England shirt.
The 2006 World Cup campaign was remembered for his red card against Portugal and four years later Rooney sarcastically sneered into a camera after a draw with Algeria: "Nice to see the home fans boo you. That's what you call loyal supporters."
But Rooney appears to have won over fans by displaying his commitment to the cause in a country where expectations surrounding the national team by far exceed the prospects of success. At Euro 2016, Rooney will hoping to become only the second England captain to lift a major trophy after Booby Moore at the 1966 World Cup, but just reaching the later rounds would be a sign of progress.
Qualifying for the final tournament in France shouldn't be a major challenge, with the tournament newly-expanded to 24 in the 54-nation UEFA region. The biggest test in Group E is first up at Switzerland on Sept. 8 after a friendly against Norway at Wembley Stadium.
Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Southampton), Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion), Joe Hart (Manchester City)
Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Calum Chambers (Arsenal), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Danny Rose (Tottenham), John Stones (Everton)
Midfielders: Jack Colback (Newcastle), Fabian Delph (Aston Villa), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), James Milner (Manchester City), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Andros Townsend (Tottenham), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
Forwards: Rickie Lambert (Liverpool), WayneRooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United)