The Manchester United and England captain started up front alongside Tottenham man Harry Kane in Turin and was unable to get on the score sheet as he tries to move closer to Sir Bobby Charlton’s record.
He did however hit the bar with one effort, and led the line for his country superbly in an experimental line up from manager Roy Hodgson.
Now, Keown has praised the forward, saying he looked like a role model for the less experienced players.
“Wayne Rooney looked excellent against Italy, like the elder statesman leading his younger teammates,” Keown said.
“He does everything with intelligence and showed his quality with 30-yard diagonal balls and a fine effort against the crossbar.”
Potential in Rooney and Kane partnership
The pundit also believes that a front two of both Rooney and Kane could work in future, despite them not managing to score against the Italians.
Manager Hodgson has preferred three forwards in the past, with Rooney playing as a lone striker and players such as Raheem Sterling and Danny Welbeck playing in roles akin to wingers.
However, they changed that for the game in Turin to go with a more conventional two up front, and Keown says there is potential for a good partnership between Rooney and Kane.
“He [Rooney] also linked up really well with Harry Kane, especially in the second half,” he added.
“It looked like they had a kind of telepathic togetherness. I’m sure that will be something Roy Hodgson will be keen to see more of in the future. They have an excellent understanding and play like a pair, not individuals.”