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Aug 24, 2014

Gerrard wants Rooney to lead England

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal believes Wayne Rooney will thrive as new captain of the club.

Steven Gerrard insists that there is no better player to take over the England armband from him than Wayne Rooney.

Gerrard led England to a disappointing performance at the 2014 World Cup, where they exited in the group stages, and then retired from international football this summer. Manager Roy Hodgson has yet to decide who will lead the Three Lions for their 2016 European Championship qualifiers, but with Louis van Gaal recently making Rooney captain of Manchester United, Gerrard believes the striker should also be skipper for his country.

"As far as I am concerned, there is no more worthy candidate to take over. Roy has tremendous faith in Wayne," he wrote in his column for the Daily Mail. "When the Manchester United striker was under pressure in the summer, when there was increased speculation about his place in the England team, his manager stuck by him and played him in the games that mattered. It was a big show of respect.

"Perhaps other managers would have taken him out of the firing line and put him on the bench when the scrutiny increased, but Roy knows what Wayne brings to England's team and, just as crucially, what he will continue to contribute in the next few years.

"So why do I think Wayne is the No. 1 choice? For starters, he is a natural leader. Aside from being a top player, one who commands respect within the group, Wayne is passionate about representing his country and won't be fazed by the responsibility. Before a game, he is one of the most vocal players in the dressing room. He wouldn't be afraid of speaking up and talking to someone one-to-one, telling them what is expected.

"When he was my deputy, he gave me great support and during our 11 years with England I saw him blossom. There were times when, as a young lad, he didn't always say the right things in the dressing room but he has matured and chooses his words carefully."

Hodgson will likely name Gerrard's successor this week as England prepare to take on Norway in a friendly at Wembley on Sept. 3 and the Liverpool midfielder thinks Rooney would thrive in the role.

"Taking the armband won't be new for Wayne -- he's led England before, against Brazil in Qatar in 2009 and San Marino in October 2012 -- but it is a different feeling from when you are just borrowing it," he continued.

"I couldn't wait to walk into the dressing room after Roy gave me the news, and it will be the same for Wayne. He will be desperate to get to Wembley for the Norway friendly and the added responsibility could be the catalyst to go on and break Sir Bobby Charlton's record of 49 goals.

"Everything is there for him now. He is set to be captain and the next two tournaments, in France and Russia, are the most important he'll play in -- they can define his legacy. We played together 71 times for England and at his best, he is a world-class talent. After the disappointment of Brazil, this is a fresh start for everyone and Wayne can lead the team positively into the new campaign."

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