Rooney demands England show spirit
Wayne Rooney has called on his England team-mates to reproduce the spirit of Istanbul in their Euro 2008 showdown against Russia.sports Updated: Oct 14, 2007 19:43 IST
Wayne Rooney has called on his England team-mates to reproduce the spirit of Istanbul in their Euro 2008 showdown against Russia.
Steve McClaren's side can seal a place at next year's finals if they win in Moscow on Wednesday, while a draw would leave them in pole position to qualify at the expense of the Russians.
With so much at stake the tie is certain be played out in a ferocious atmosphere as 80,000 fans cram into the Luzhniki Stadium, bringing back memories of an explosive trip to Turkey four years ago.
England needed a point in Istanbul to reach the last European Championships and they survived an intense evening, which included a fight between opposing players in the stadium tunnel, to emerge with a goalless draw.
Rooney was still only a teenager then but Sven Goran Eriksson picked him in his starting line-up and was rewarded with a typically whole-hearted display.
The Manchester United striker, who is back in form after scoring his first goal in a competitive England match for three years against Estonia on Saturday, knows his side will need another defiant performance against Guus Hiddink's men.
"We have got the job done and now we've got a similar game in Russia to the one we had to tackle in Istanbul a few years ago," Rooney said.
"It was a tight game in Turkey. We had a few chances and possibly could have won it but we went there to get what we needed and we did it.
"There's enough steel in this squad to do the same again. There's probably a few more younger players in the squad, but there's the same if not more quality.
"We know it will be difficult but we've got to go out there and do the job. There is definitely enough belief and quality in this squad. We will go there and be completely focused. There will be no excuses."
After so much debate over his recent lacklustre performances for England, Rooney's return to the scoresheet in the 3-0 stroll against Estonia was perfectly timed.
McClaren had been slightly harsh before the match when he claimed Rooney was still some way from being a genuine world class player.
But Michael Owen, who completed 70 minutes in his first start since a double hernia operation, has no doubts his strike partner is back on track.
He said: "It was a good finish. I was just about to take a touch but I heard him shout 'over' a split second before.
"I pulled my leg out of the way and he's taken a swing at it. It's taken a little deflection and it often needs something like that to get you going.
"He's scored a couple for Manchester United and now one for England so hopefully he can keep going."
Owen looked understandably rusty as he eased himself back into action, but the Newcastle star is certain he can make a match-winning contribution in Moscow.
"I'm feeling good. Only playing an hour or so probably got more energy stored up and hopefully I can show that on Wednesday," he said.
"That's what I'll be going into the game thinking. Positive thoughts like that help. Often in these games the best form of defence is attack and if we can get a goal we will be well on the way.
"We are ready to go out there and play against a good team. They'll have home advantage and a lot has been made out of the surface we will be playing on but we are in confident mood.
"We have a lot of top players playing well for club and country so we'll be looking to go out there and get a good result.
"Any result will be good but we are looking to win."