Wayne Rooney admits he has one last shot at the biggest tournament of the lot.
Rooney seems happy and relaxed here in Portugal — there was that touching moment at the end of an England training session when he ran over to kiss his four-year-old son Kai.
But the serious stuff starts soon. Rooney insists that England will go to Brazil aiming to win the tournament and accepts this is his final realistic chance to make a major impact at a World Cup.
It was an issue his former team-mate Paul Scholes addressed on Thursday, even predicting Rooney’s possible retirement in his early thirties.
At 28, Rooney knows the clock is ticking on his career. ‘At the World Cup in 2018, I’ll be older so it will be difficult to make an impact,’ Rooney admitted at England’s Portugal training base.
‘I want to show the world what I can do and this is the time do it. There will be no excuses.
‘This is the last big one that I feel will get the best out of me. I can deliver and this is the one where I have to show what I can do.’
So this really is it. Rooney’s last chance to rule the world.
We have been here before, catapulting him into the same category as the Brazilian Ronaldo before the 2006 World Cup and Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo at the 2010 tournament in South Africa.
No-one will make the same mistake again. This time it’s up to Rooney to perform, to score his first goal at a World Cup and lead England out of their group. Goodness knows he has enough talent to do that.
‘The tournaments haven’t gone great for me but I’m hoping this one will. I feel fresh, I feel fit, I feel ready.
‘When you’re going into a tournament, you believe you’re going to do well, so you don’t really feel that pressure, but maybe inside you are feeling it, which you don’t realise.
Written by Steve Milne