The Three Lions boss believes the Manchester United star can fire his side into the latter stages of Euro 2012 and become the national team's talismanic figurehead
Rooney will return from suspension for Tuesday night’s crunch Group D encounter with co-hosts Ukraine, having sat out the opening games with France and Sweden.
Despite both Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck finding the net during the 3-2 win against the Swedes last time out, Hodgson has said Rooney is likely to start and could even be named as vice-captain.
The 26-year-old will be desperate to get back into action, hoping to help his side gain the point which would seal their passage through to the knockout stages.
And Hodgson believes the 74-times capped forward can take England far into the tournament by replicating the form he showed last season, having netted 35 goals in 44 appearances.
“If you look back through the years... if you take Pele for example, he was capable of producing his very best football when it really mattered to help Brazil win World Cups,” Hodgson told reporters.
“Let’s hope that Wayne can start to do that for us on Tuesday and then, if we win, who knows?
“If Wayne can produce his best, then he can help us keep going even further in the tournament.”