Football: Rooney named England captain and fulfils 'dream'

Football: Rooney named England captain and fulfils 'dream'
England's forward Wayne Rooney passes the ball during the international friendly football match between England and Peru at Wembley Stadium in north London on May 30, 2014. Rooney was named England captain on Aug 28.

LONDON - Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named the new captain of England on Thursday.

Rooney, who succeeds Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, will lead his country in a friendly against Norway on Sept. 3 and their opening Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland on Sept. 8.

"To be named as England captain is a dream come true for me personally and, of course, for my family," Rooney, who has scored 40 goals in 95 international appearances, said in a statement.

"It is something I will take massive pride in doing. As a kid I always loved the occasion of watching a big England game on the television," the 28-year-old added. "Back then I had a burning ambition to play for my country. Now to be appointed captain is beyond my wildest dreams."

Coach Roy Hodgson made the announcement at a media conference at Wembley as he unveiled his squad for the fixtures against Norway and Switzerland.

"I gave it a lot of thought but Wayne is an obvious choice," Hodgson told reporters.

"He deserves it - his commitment to the cause, his experience. He has captained England in the past and, of course, he has that responsibility at Manchester United now. "I've had a long conversation with him and he's prepared to accept the pressures that the England captaincy brings. It's important that the player wants to take on that enormous responsibility."

Hodgson, under pressure as England coach for the first time after his team's poor performance at the World Cup, said he believed Rooney was well suited to the role despite lingering question marks over the player's maturity and temperament.

Rooney, who has had on-field disciplinary problems in his career, was sent off playing for England against Portugal at the 2006 World Cup and against Montenegro in a Euro 2012 qualifier.

He was also heavily criticised after mouthing the words "nice to see your home fans boo you" following England's dismal 0-0 draw with Algeria at the 2010 World Cup.

But Hodgson said: "I've got to judge him on the two years I've been with him.

"It's not for me to look back too much and whatever misdemeanours the player may have had. In the two years with me I've had no reason whatsoever to question anything about his character or desire to play for his country or his wholehearted willingness to offer himself in every situation.

"I'm not concerned about anything else, but he has that baggage with him and he will have to accept that as an added part of the pressure."

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