LONDON (AFP) – Wayne Rooney was on Tuesday praised by England manager Roy Hodgson for coping with criticism generated by a “turbulent” career.
The 29-year-old striker will become England’s ninth centurion when he leads his country out against Slovenia at Wembley in Saturday’s Euro 2016 qualifier for his 100th cap.
He will join previous century-makers Peter Shilton, David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Bobby Moore, Ashley Cole, Bobby Charlton, Frank Lampard and Billy Wright.
And Hodgson told BBC Radio 5 that the England forward deserved extra praise for the way he has dealt with personal attacks during his roller coaster England career.
“He burst on to the scene as the wonder kid at 19. He was the saviour of English football,” said Hdgson.
“And he has had to suffer the slings and arrows because of the times when, of course, he has not been able to be the saviour of English football and people have criticised him for it.
“Having built him up to a very high level they have worked very hard to knock him right back down again.
“I think that has given him an incredible maturity and mental strength that we will need going forward.
“That’s a harder thing to teach or to inculcate in the squad than tactics or technique.”
Rooney caused outrage at the 2006 World Cup when he was sent off for a stamp on Portugal defender Ricardo Carvalho.
Four years later, he lashed out at the England fans who booed the team off following their dire 0-0 draw against Algeria.
And the Manchester United forward was suspended for the first two games of Euro 2012 when he kicked out at defender Miodrag Dzudovic during a crucial qualifier in Montenegro.
Hodgson said Rooney’s progress with England had been “steady” since he scored four goals in Euro 2004, but rejected the claim he had under-achieved because he has not won anything with the national side.
“What you have to take into account with Wayne is that he is going to have played 100 games at the age of 29,” Hodgson added.
“He is the top goalscorer in the English team and he is only a few goals (six) away from Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time record.
“I think that has got to be a better measure of his success.”