EXCLUSIVE By Greg Stobart Follow on Twitter
Sir Geoff Hurst has backed Wayne Rooney to set a goalscoring record for England that will never be beaten, but says the striker must produce in a major tournament.
Rooney is two goals shy of Sir Bobby Charlton’s national scoring record of 49 as he prepares to captain England in Tuesday night’s friendly against Italy in Turin.
The Manchester United captain has scored just one goal in World Cup finals but 1966 hero Hurst is backing the 29-year-old to establish himself as one of England’s greats.
“I think the only thing people hold against him is that he hasn’t scored enough in major tournaments because he has only scored one goal at the World Cup,” Hurst told Goal.
“As a striker, you say that the team has to be there to give him opportunities and in recent tournaments the whole team has underperformed.
“I think he will break Bobby’s record soon and he might set a new record that can never be beaten. Wayne has time to put himself way out ahead.
“Wayne can only keep doing what he is doing and he deserves to be up there as one of the best English players ever.”
Charlton was a team-mate of Hurst’s during the 1966 World Cup triumph and set the current scoring record over 106 caps from midfield.
Rooney has played 102 times for England but Hurst says it is difficult to compare the two.
“Bobby’s record is brilliant because he was a midfield player and Wayne is a striker,” Hurst added. “It makes you realise just how amazing Bobby’s career was, God bless him.
“You can’t really compare Bobby with Wayne because they were different types of players in different eras. I always find it difficult trying to measure a player from the 1960s up against a player from now.”
Sir Geoff Hurst is encouraging communities to nominate a local #GrassrootsHero for the FA & McDonald’s Community Awards. Nominations in England close Friday 27th March, to nominate visit www.mcdonalds.co.uk/awards