Rustenburg: Wayne Rooney has vowed to achieve redemption for his red card exit from the last World Cup by firing England into the knockout stages of this tournament.
The Manchester United striker failed to do himself justice in Germany, where he was not fully match fit following an accelerated pre-tournament rehabilitation from a broken metatarsal bone.
Having failed to score in four appearances, Rooney departed the tournament in disgrace, his frustration over his own and England`s under-performance culminating in a stamp on Portugal`s Ricardo Carvalho in a quarter-final England were to lose on penalties.
This time, Rooney insists he is firing on all cylinders, despite some end-of-season niggles, and ready to deliver the goals England require to put their campaign back on track following a 1-1 draw with the United States in their Group C opener.
Rooney, 24, is confident England will beat their other group opponents, Algeria, whom they face in Cape Town tomorrow, and Slovenia, and is also bullish about his own chance to be one of the tournament`s major stars.
"I feel a lot more comfortable and more positive this time than in Germany," Rooney said. "With the last World Cup, I didn`t train with the lads beforehand, and didn`t play in any of the warm-up games because of my injury.”
"I got thrown straight into a few games and you know you are not match fit. I didn`t feel that I did myself justice and I`m hoping this World Cup I can do myself justice.”
"I`ve sort of forgotten about the last World Cup now and I`ve moved on. What drives me on is trying to win for England and trying to do well at world level. That`s a great drive for any player.”
"What Maradona did in 1986 and Pele did in three World Cups. They are the two stand-out players who have taken the World Cup by the scruff of the neck and virtually won it single-handed. You look at those two and if you can do half of what they achieved, then that would be great."
Rooney goes into this tournament on the back of a 33-goal campaign for Manchester United and his record for England, for whom he generally plays in a more withdrawn role than has been the case for his club this season, is highly respectable: 25 goals in 61 internationals.
His last goal for his country came in last September`s 5-1 rout of Croatia and it is telling that England have not really produced a totally convincing performance since that night at Wembley.