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Wayne Rooney

Rooney: This England squad could be my best

10:58 PM GMT+8 05/06/2016
The Manchester United captain, who has played in five major tournaments with his country, believes that this side can best all previous squads he has been involved with

Wayne Rooney believes the England squad for Euro 2016 has the potential to be the best he has played in.

The Three Lions' captain and record goalscorer made his debut in February 2003 and has already played in five major tournaments, with his sixth now under a week away.

And Rooney believes that the squad for the tournament in France could end up topping all the others, but he insists that they simply must live up to expectations this summer.

"This squad has the potential to be the best one I have played in," he told reporters.

"I think the future for the England national team is really bright. It can get off to a spectacular start this summer.

"We know we have got a good squad of players now but we have to perform. We can't expect to go to France with a good squad of players and think it's all going to happen, that it's going to be given to us. We know teams will try and stop us and make it difficult."

England won their final warm-up game for the Euros 1-0 against 10-man Portugal, who had Bruno Alves sent off for a dangerously high first-half challenge on Harry Kane, but the Tottenham striker attempted to stay on his feet.

Rooney admires Kane's honesty, but he feels there are elements of the styles deployed by foreign sides that England can pick up on as they mature as a team.

The Manchester United skipper added: "We need to understand and manage the game better – it is normal, that comes with experience.

"Whether it is stopping a quick free-kick, or - I'm not saying anything bad about foreign players - but they do it naturally better in terms of staying on the ground a bit longer, and almost making a decision for the referee which we have not been brought up to do. 

"It is a big difference for us to do that. Harry had seen his opportunity, I think if the referee had played on, we might have went on and scored. In the past we have always been an honest team, an honest country."

England's finest ever finish at a European Championship came in 1996, when Terry Venables' side reached the semi-finals, and Rooney has urged his team-mates to seize the opportunity to be recognised alongside a team that boasted the likes of Paul Gascoigne and Alan Shearer.

"It is as if they won the tournament – the way they are remembered for it," he said when asked about a recent BBC documentary looking back at the tournament.

"So imagine if we can go one better and win it. We would be remembered. It is a challenge for us, of course and, hopefully, we can do it."