Interim England boss Gareth Southgate has paid tribute to Manchester United star Wayne Rooney’s immense stature within the Three Lions dressing room.
Rooney, who is also the captain of the side, is expected to play a big leadership role within the England camp over the following weeks. This is as the national team are currently without a permanent manager following the departure of Sam Allardyce, who was forced out after his role in corruption scandal was revealed last week.
England assistant Southgate has taken temporary command of the side and will be in charge of their World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovenia while the FA seeks out a suitable replacement.
Rooney, meanwhile, has come in for plenty of criticism in recent weeks as a slump in form coincided with a poor run of results for the Red Devils, leading to him being dropped from the side.
‘It’s a period of change after the summer and now this month. The most important thing at this time is leadership, on and off the field,’ Southgate told the media, reports Goal.
‘I think that Wayne has provided that over the last two years. The way he has matured into that role is really impressive and there was no doubt in my mind about keeping him in that position.’
Southgate explained he believes Rooney’s role within the squad stretches far beyond his contribution on the pitch.
‘The way he’s matured, the way he spoke eloquently, his understanding of what was needed for the whole group in terms of leadership and his captaincy, being able to speak about things that affected everybody.
‘I couldn’t have been more impressed with the discussion we had,’ he concluded.
England will take on Malta when the sides meet at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
Kick-off is at 17:00.