England striker Wayne Rooney has said he wants to emulate the ‘original’ Ronaldo’s performance for Brazil at the 2002 World Cup.
Ronaldo scored eight goals in South Korea and Japan and helped Brazil on route to winning their fifth World Cup, establishing himself as the best striker in the world. His performance sparked a move from Inter Milan to Real Madrid, and put him among the all-time greats of the game.
But his admirer Rooney has often been accused of not performing to a good enough standard in an England shirt, despite breaking many records for Manchester United.
Rooney now believes he is ready to perform to Ronaldo’s level for England, as he seeks success at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.
“Ronaldo was the best,” he said in an interview with the Telegraph.
“Sometimes you forget how good he was as a finisher, quick, strong, different type of goals. As an out-and-out forward he was probably the best.”
Rooney also believes this summer will be the last opportunity to exploit the talent he knows he has, and admits the new England psychiatrist could help him find the extra performance.
“I want to prove myself at this level, which I haven’t been able to do before. This is my last big one to get the best out of me and I want to be as good as I can. At the World Cup in 2018 I will be older and it will be difficult to make an impact on that."
For Rooney the time has come to finally grasp the opportunity to be the game-changing element for England at a major tournament. Questions remain whether the former Everton man has ever truly fulfilled the potential we all thought he had as a footballer, but he most certainly has not at an international tournament.
It’s now or never for Rooney in his bid to become one of England’s true greats.