The Tottenham striker believes his England team-mate’s ‘fire’ is essential to the Red Devils' title challenge and will drive him on for years to come
Defoe goes head-to-head with Rooney on Sunday afternoon as Tottenham and Manchester United clash at White Hart Lane.
“People say top players, or talented people, always seem to be a little crazy,” Defoe told the Sunday Mirror.
“But if you look at life in general, people who have got that gift are a little bit crazy and they live on the edge for some reason.
“It’s important for Wayne to have that fire. I think you need that fire to achieve anything.”
The 29-year-old believes this fire will see Rooney emulate his Old Trafford team-mates and play well into his thirties.
“I’m sure he’s looking at players like Giggsy [Ryan Giggs]. He’s around him every day and I’m sure he’s thinking ‘I’ll do whatever he’s doing’. Because I would do that.
“If I was at Man United I would be looking at players like that. You can learn from them because they’ve been there and done it and played so many games. Because whatever they’re doing, it’s working.”
Although Defoe is backing United to beat Manchester City to the league title he hasn’t given up hope of the north London club pushing to the very end, while praising the continued performances of Giggs and fellow-veteran Paul Scholes.
“We can still do it, but it’s going to be hard.
“It’s hard to look past Man United though. All credit to the United medical staff, whatever they’re doing. Giggsy and Scholesy are true professionals.
“I remember when I first got into the England squad, just being around the Man United boys was unbelievable.
“Even if they lost games in training they were still talking about it in the evening at dinner. They’ve just got that winning mentality.
“People see Man United, they have done it over the years they know how to do it. They have done it so many times. They keep getting late winning goals – for some reason they just know how to do it they have that mentality.
“Obviously City have got the squad.
“We’ve got a strong squad too, one of the best squads in the league in my opinion, but we’ve just got to keep working hard and see what happens from now until the end of the season."
Defoe also expressed his delight for Scott Parker who took the England captaincy for Wednesday’s friendly with the Netherlands, and has backed him to do the job full-time.
”Obviously Scott’s my team-mate and he has been fantastic since he has come to us,” said Defoe.
“He is just a winner and if he has something to say at half-time he’ll say it. He’ll say it to the boys and he’s good with the younger lads around the club. He’s the right man for the job of England captain.
“Sometimes he comes in to the dressing room at the end of a game and he looks like he has been in a fight.
“His hair’s all wet, he’s got blood everywhere. But that’s just Scotty.
“He’s the same in training. He always wants to win. He’s just a proper captain.”