• World Cup

Rooney will claim the stage - Mourinho

ESPN staff
June 10, 2014
Rooney feeling the pressure?

Jose Mourinho has backed Wayne Rooney to be the star of the World Cup and told the England forward he "is ready to cope with the pressure".

Mourinho, who tried to buy Rooney for Chelsea last summer, believes the 28-year-old will shine in Brazil despite failing to find the net in the previous two tournaments - and says it's time for him to step up on football's biggest stage.

"Wayne is right when he says this is his World Cup," he told Yahoo. "He is not a kid anymore, he is not an old player at the end of his career, he is in what I call the best age.

"It is his World Cup and I think he has also a role as a leader in the team, a little bit similar that he had also at United this season.

'My wife told me not to take England job'

Matilde Mourinho convinced her husband the England job wasn't for him © PA Photos
  • Jose Mourinho has revealed he turned down the England job when Steve McClaren was sacked in 2007… because his wife wouldn't let him!
  • Mourinho's first spell at Chelsea had ended three months before and, when asked how close he came to accepting the FA's offer, he held a pen an inch or so above an imaginary dotted line and said: "This close."
  • He added: "At that time I could not get an English club because of my contract when I left Chelsea. I couldn't get an English club in the next two years. I could get the national team but not a club.
  • "Frank Lampard, John Terry, Joe Cole, everybody, was saying, 'Come, come, come'. My players said, 'The guys from Manchester United and Liverpool call us and say to us, 'Tell your boss to come'. I had lots of positive things to push me."
  • "My wife told me not to take it and she was right. It was the right decision. We are talking about seven years ago - and I cannot wait two years for a big competition. I cannot be spending two years playing against Kazakhstan and San Marino.
  • "What would I do during the week? I could go to see the players training with their teams, I ask for permission to spend time with them and to have individual coaching with them. I have to work with them, I can improve things. I'm not going to stay at home, I have to travel, I want to see the players, I want to participate in their evolution blah, blah, blah, blah. But in the end my wife was saying: 'No football, no matches, is not good for you.'
  • "And she was right. It was not the job for me seven years ago, it's not the job for me now and I don't think it will be the job for me in seven years' time. Maybe in 15 years from now but not seven."

"He is a guy with responsibilities in the national team, I think he is ready to cope with this pressure. I think that can play a positive role in his ambition, in his anger to succeed.

"I have faith in him, I have faith that he can do it."

Mourinho, however, was far less confident when predicting a good tournament for Roy Hodgson's England side.

"England is the kind of team I am always expecting something good but I am never surprised when things go wrong," he added. "If England is world champions, it is not a surprise for me. If England is knocked out in the group phase, it is not a surprise for me."

"If England wins the World Cup for me it is only a surprise because you won only once and you won when I was three years old.

"England is the kind of team where I am always expecting something good but I am never surprised when things go wrong.

"When people speak sometimes about not enough quality in the team I always disagree and I remember for example the England team in 2004, it was the European [Championship] in Portugal which is the year where I come to England for the first time.

"Even in that time people were already saying that the team was not good enough to win the competition and I remember the England team in 2004, I remember lots of them, it was full of top players from the top teams in the country.

"You go now and obviously you have some boys who are not playing in the top teams in the country but you have players from Chelsea, from United, City, Arsenal, Liverpool, so the top five all represented in high numbers in the national team so you have quality, you have experience, you have international experience, you have everything so why not be a candidate?

While he was happily to talk openly about the players Roy Hodgson has selected, he was not so keen to discuss those the England manager had left at home. In particular, a player he knows very well.

"It's time to forget John Terry and support Phil Jagielka," he said, before the conversation turned swiftly to the dreaded penalty shootouts. "Don't speak about penalties with me because I always lose on penalties," Mourinho said. "The only time I won was in the Super Cup with Inter when we beat Roma [in 2008]. Imagine how lucky I was - Totti missed for Roma! But I lost so many times and, after trying everything, my final conclusion is that it's what He wants [Mourinho points to the heavens].

"At Real Madrid I didn't win the Champions League [in 2012] because Ronaldo, Kaká and Sergio Ramos missed [in the semi-final shoot-out defeat by Bayern Munich.] These were the best penalty takers. And with Chelsea in the semi-final against Liverpool [in 2007] it was exactly the same.

"One player who was not on our list of takers was Arjen Robben. He said to me: 'Put me No1, 100% it's a goal.' I did. And he missed. There's nothing you can do. I keep saying I'm going to win a competition on penalties. It's going to be a big one."

When asked who he is backing to win the World Cup, Mourinho said he believes it will not be a first-time winner.

"I don't see a national team with conditions to do that, to break what used to say the stability," he said. "The South Americans think they are going to be strong and they have two or three strong teams.

"I don't think the Africans, despite fantastic players and much more experience as a team, I don't think they can break the quarter-final wall. In Europe you have always the traditional two or three, maybe in Europe could come some outsider but I don't see there will be any big surprise."

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