Rooney becomes a role model as he takes England captaincy
The combustible striker will wear the armband against San Marino tonight
WAYNE ROONEY will lead England against minnows San Marino at Wembley tonight and has insisted that he is a changed man from the one who was sent off against Montenegro a year ago.
His wild kick at Miodrag Dzudovic ended up costing him a place in the England team in the opening games of Euro 2012, but it will not happen again said the Manchester United striker.
"That was a stupid thing to do," recalled Rooney. "I regretted it as soon as I'd done it. I apologised and paid the price. It won't be happening again, I can promise. After that, at club level, you saw a different person. I cut out a lot of the silly tackles and mistakes I made as a young lad. I'm a different person and a different player. I've matured as a player and a person."
He might have a point. "His disciplinary record in the year since – he has been booked only once in 44 games for club and country – would suggest progress has been made controlling his temper," reports The Guardian.
But the paper admits that the Rooney has made similar pledges in the past. It points out that Rooney said he had changed after his outburst against the England fans during the World Cup in 2010 - but a year later the red mist engulfed him in Podgorica.
Rooney was chosen as skipper only because of injuries to Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, who could yet return for the Poland game. Ashley Cole was also in the frame, but he may be rested for the match and is still in the doghouse over his exploits on Twitter, despite a fulsome apology.
"Standards have been under scrutiny in the wake of allegations John Terry racially abused Anton Ferdinand and Ashley Cole's offensive tweet, branding the FA a 'bunch of twats'," said the Daily Mail, which implies that the choice of Rooney as captain could be seen as a risk.
There have been plenty of reminders of what The Daily Telegraph calls the "flawed nature of the modern English footballer" recently. "Rooney is the poster-boy of that movement, a wonderfully cool and composed manipulator of a ball around the opposition half but occasionally hot-headed. And now he is the team leader, the role model in chief."