Steven Gerrard has jumped to Wayne Rooney‘s defence and believes England need their top scorer on the field to remain in the European Championships.
The pair played alongside each other for England since Rooney first donned the Three Lions shirt back in 2003 and against each other in Liverpool versus Manchester United derbies for more than a decade.
England face Iceland in the last 16 knockout game on Monday and Gerrard believes a leader like Rooney is necessary to any success England might have.
“The people who doubt Wayne are wrong,” he said.
“He is still a world-class player and can decide a game alone. Such players are very important at the European Championships in France.
“He has entertained the fans in England for years. He is our [all-time] top scorer. We need him.”
Rooney is currently in the process of a similar evolution of his game as Gerrard dropped deeper in midfield during Brendan Rodgers’ time in charge at Anfield.
The general consensus from Rooney’s detractors is that if he is not playing in his best position, which is as a striker or a support striker, then he has no business being on the pitch.
Having a player on the field who demands the ball when the pressure is on like Rooney, matched with his wide array of passing skills, Gerrard has a point in what he is saying. While Rooney does not, perhaps, understand the nuances of the position just yet, he is still a valuable player when push comes to shove.
This is especially poignant when you consider Roy Hodgson’s alternative options in the role. England will most like own most of the ball against Iceland and a moment or two of the brilliance that Rooney is capable of could be the deciding factor in the game.