England captain Steven Gerrard has stated that Wayne Rooney struggled to cope with the level of expectation surrounding his performances while at Euro 2012.
Roy Hodgson's side eventually fell at the quarterfinal stage to finalists Italy on penalties, after qualifying top of its group. Manchester United striker Rooney missed the team's first two games as he sat on the sidelines seeing out a two-game suspension. Upon his return, he was immediately thrust straight back into the starting lineup and Gerrard believes that the pressure may have got to him.
"At this level one of the biggest things is playing without expectation or fear," he told reporters. "It is only normal if Wayne is weighed down with that feeling of expectation because everyone expects him to do well."
After making his England debut in 2003 and forcing his way into the starting lineup for Euro 2004, where a raw 18 year-old Rooney took the tournament by storm with a series of superb individual displays, he's since struggled at international level, particularly at major tournaments.
The Liverpool skipper believes that until responsibility starts to be shared out between the whole squad rather than just a few of the star players, this unfair criticism will continue.
"Since he's been around, there's been pressure because of his performances in 2004. Wayne is expected to come to these tournaments and win them all on his own.
"The responsibility has got to be on all 23 players. It's unfair to look at Wayne and say because he never played well, he's the reason why we don't do well at these tournaments."
The 32 year-old also had some choice words for his Liverpool team-mate Jamie Carragher, responding to the defender's suggestion that England are doomed to fail at the next World Cup in Brazil in two years' time.
"Should we give up? Should we not go because of what Jamie Carragher said?
"Everyone is down, everyone's sad and there is doom and gloom about, but we will keep working and bounce back. Hopefully, we'll put it right."
Follow GOAL.COM USA on