The Three Lions boss went on to hail the Manchester United striker's "magnificent" attitude and praised the efforts of his players but called the Italy game a "bridge too far"
The former Three Lions manager hit back at Rooney's 'lost in translation' jibe on Tuesday by suggesting that he could "only understand Scottish".
Hodgson, however, leapt to the defence of the 26-year-old before continuing to praise the squad for their efforts in Poland and Ukraine.
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"His attitude [at Euro 2012] was magnificent. He was putting in extra work in training because he was concerned he was behind the others having missed the first two games through suspension.
"He was trying to do extra work and we were trying to put the brakes on. His desire to do well was enormous.
"In the final game [against Italy] he, along with one or two other players, didn’t play to the level he can but that’s what football is about. If every player was a robot and played at the same level in every game then football would be a very simple game and we wouldn’t need coaches."
Aside from a promising opening 20 minutes in which Glen Johnson and Danny Welbeck were unlucky not to score, England were vastly outplayed by Italy on Sunday and eventually succumbed to defeat in the dreaded penalty shoot-out.
“Maybe it [the quarter-final] was a bridge too far," Hodgson continued. "We ran out of legs a bit in the final part and didn’t keep the ball as well as we should have done but it was a valiant effort to take the game to penalties.
"There was a brief period in the first half when we showed what we could do but we couldn’t keep that up. Getting to penalties was the best we could do.
"I don’t think we could have done much more. The players' focus couldn’t have been better, and the effort couldn’t have been better.
"In the first half that showed. At half-time I didn’t see any reason to believe we couldn’t win the game. But in the second half and extra-time it was obvious they were in the ascendancy and we were thankful for some magnificent defending to make sure we stayed in the game.
"There was no surrender. It was a great effort and I feel very proud of what the players did for me on the pitch. But there will always be recriminations if you don’t get as far as you’d like, and achieve what you want to."