Rooney: I was at my best in Croatia

October 9, 2008

LONDON, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Wayne Rooney's second-half performance in last month's 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Croatia was the best of his international career, the England striker said on Thursday.

Rooney, who has scored in his last three games for Manchester United, was on target against Croatia to supplement Theo Walcott's hat-trick.

"The second half was the best I have played for England," the United marksman told reporters. "Theo coming into the team has made a big difference for us.

"He is probably the quickest player I have ever seen. He has brought us something different. He has been a great addition."

England play Kazakhstan at Wembley on Saturday after taking six points from their opening two qualifiers against Andorra and Croatia.

Rooney said Arsenal winger Walcott had probably been expected to do more after he was unexpectedly selected in the squad for the 2006 World Cup finals.

"Everyone thought he was going to play more than he has done," said Rooney.

"He was brilliant in the first half against Andorra. Against Croatia he was outstanding. He deserved his three goals."

Rooney, rested by manager Alex Ferguson for United's match against Bolton Wanderers, said he had made a slow start to the season.

"I could have played better but because I never scored I got criticised. I am not too worried about that as a forward because if you don't score you will always be criticised," he said.

"It is probably because I get on the ball more. I don't like to be out of the game too long.

"Some centre-forwards can stay up front, not touch the ball and just look to score goals. I don't really enjoy doing that. I like to get on the ball and be involved in the game."