London, Oct.10 : England footballer Wayne Rooney believes that he is a better footballer today than he was in 2004 when he lit up Euro 2004 with two goals against Switzerland and another two against Croatia.
Then the broken metatarsal Rooney suffered against Portugal in the quarter-final was blamed for the Three Lions' failure and the weight of expectation on the Manchester United star has seemed a burden ever since.
Rooney now argues that his all-round contribution to the team is what counts, rather than his goal ratio.
"I thought I played well in 2004 but I've improved as a player since then. Because I scored a few goals, everyone remembers that. But I think I've played better than that many times where I haven't scored. My favourite position is playing behind the forward because you are getting the ball more.
"I don't like to be out of the game too long," said Rooney.
According to The Sun, no one could argue Rooney does not do his bit all over the pitch - sometimes too much - which is why he does not score so many. But his performance against the Croats in England's stunning 4-1 World Cup success in Zagreb last month backs up his case. He got a goal for himself, while the fact he was instrumental in Theo Walcott's hat-trick gave him just as much pleasure, if not more.
"When you look at the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, they are players who deserve to be up for World Footballer of the Year for the way they have played and - hopefully - I can get there one day. If I keep working and progressing I'd like to think I could. But as I've always said throughout my career, it's not about me, it's about the team. I'd rather win a trophy with the team than any personal trophy," Rooney said.
Story first published: Friday, October 10, 2008, 20:46 [IST]
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