Hurst backs Rooney as captain

  • Last Updated: October 13 2012, 13:52 BST

Sir Geoff Hurst believes the England captaincy could propel Wayne Rooney to an even higher level.

Wayne Rooney: Two-goal hero against San Marino

With Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard both missing on Friday night, Rooney wore the armband for the 5-0 World Cup win over San Marino at Wembley.

It was only the second time he had been asked to do the job, and the first in a competitive game.

And the response was exactly what Roy Hodgson would have been hoping for as Rooney scored twice, taking his England tally to 31, including the all-important breakthrough penalty 10 minutes before half-time.

Speaking at the McDonald's FA Community Awards, Hurst explained his theory about the added responsibility being a benefit to Rooney rather than a burden.

"I really can't see any negatives to him being captain," said Hurst.

"It is something he will embrace and may just give him the added responsibility that hopefully will assist in his continued improvement with England.

"He has broad enough shoulders for it and would take it on better than most."

It is still difficult to think of Rooney as a captain.

However, with Ashley Cole unlikely ever to be asked, Rooney has more experience than anyone in the England squad beyond Gerrard and Lampard.

Last night was his 77th cap and he has now gone above Alan Shearer, Nat Lofthouse and Tom Finney to become the fifth highest scorer in England history.

Yet he has done all this at the age of just 26.

"In football terms he is still young," said Hurst.

"He came through so early and all of a sudden he has acquired 70-odd caps.

"Wayne still has many years ahead of him and I am sure he wants to perform at England level as we all know he is capable of."

Because for all the statistics, the nagging realisation remains that Rooney is yet to reproduce the form of Euro 2004, when he first emerged as a player of such immense potential.

Whereas his value to Manchester United is unquestioned, too often with England it has been frustration, the latest example coming this summer, when he missed the first half of Euro 2012 through suspension, then struggled to make an impact when he was available.

"He hasn't quite done it at England level," said Hurst.

"At Manchester United he plays for a side that has won everything.

"With England, you are playing against teams like Brazil and Italy and you are not going to win every game. It is a tougher transition.

"That is not saying he has been poor.

But I don't think we have seen that many world-class performances from Wayne with England."

Hurst was at Friday night's game to present one of the Community Awards, a fitting occasion in a week when the FA have unveiled their new £105million training hub at Burton.

Coaching the coaches has become something of a mantra in recent times.

But even from his own playing days, Hurst knows how valuable the input of a top-class coach can be.

"When I was at West Ham we had one of the best coaches in the world," he said.

"It was no coincidence the teaching Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and I had under Ron Greenwood had a direct influence on us.

"We provided three players for a World Cup-winning team.

"That came as a direct result of what we did on the training ground.

"We want more Ron Greenwoods. We want more coaches of that calibre. who can produce a greater number of players."

  • The FA Community Awards, presented by McDonald's, aims to recognise and reward people across the country who make a difference to the grassroots game.

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