LONDON: Skipper Wayne Rooney is counting on his years of experience playing for England to help him lead coach Roy Hodgson’s relatively young side at the European Championship.
The 30-year-old striker, who is heading into his third continental championship, took the armband from Steven Gerrard in August 2014, before England’s Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.
“Leading the team into a major finals is a huge honour and a big moment for myself that I don’t take lightly,” Rooney told British media.
“I need to be a good example to the other players. I don’t think I have to look after the younger players but if I can set the right example around the hotel or out on the training pitch, then they will see that.”
Hodgson’s final squad for the tournament in France, which kicks off on June 10, includes seven players under the age of 23.
Rooney, who became England’s all-time record goal-scorer in September and has now scored 52 for England, said he would take it upon himself to guide the youngsters, especially those who will be playing in their first major international tournament.
“A lot of these players are going to their first tournament and won’t know what to expect. It is different, so if I can try to give them a bit of insight into that, I will,” he added.
“I always believe I was fortunate to benefit from being put in as a 17-year-old and given a chance, which I took. Now I’m excited and proud to lead these players into the tournament, and I really believe we’ve got a good enough squad to do well.”
England have been drawn in Group B alongside Russia, Wales and Slovakia in the 24-team tournament.
Having regained full fitness, Rooney believes the Euro 2016 is his biggest test as captain of England.
“I feel it’s gone well. We were unbeaten in the qualifying campaign and I’ve scored a lot of goals since I’ve been captain,” Rooney said.
“But now is the big test. I think this is the biggest test now, going into a tournament. We’re away a long time as a group of players and I need to be a good example to those players and hopefully help us be successful.
“I don’t think I have to look after them, but if I can set the right example around the hotel or on the training pitch, then they will see that.”