Wayne Rooney believes England can achieve Euro 2012 glory after he fired the Three Lions into the quarter-finals by scoring the winner against Ukraine on Tuesday.
Rooney headed home a deflected Steven Gerrard cross in the 48th minute in the final Group D clash to seal England’s spot in the final eight with a 1-0 victory. 2006 World Cup winners Italy lie in wait, but Rooney insists all remaining teams in the tournament will be hoping to avoid England.
“Italy will be difficult for us but we believe in ourselves,” he said. “We expect to do well as a team, whether people expect us to or not. We have stuck together, worked hard and we have a belief.
"We’re group winners and ready for the challenges ahead. We know our qualities and what we are capable of. Not many teams will fancy playing us. We are difficult to break down and have players to score goals.”
Rooney had not scored in an international tournament since the European Championship eight years ago. But after making a goalscoring return from a two-match suspension in Donetsk, the striker was quick to praise his team-mates, in particular skipper Gerrard.
“I haven’t scored in a major tournament in a while and it was nice to do that with the winning goal,” said Rooney. “The whole team was fantastic; we defended really well and stuck in there at times against a difficult crowd. Our fans were brilliant and we deserved the win.
“It was great to get three points and it’s always a great feeling to score. My overall game could have been a bit better but it was my first game for a while.
"The one thing I was delighted with was that I was always putting myself in goalscoring opportunities. I could have done better with a couple more but I got the goal and its three points.
“Steven's delivery has been exceptional in this tournament. He's a world-class player and I thought tonight he was really brilliant. He drove us on at times. We're lucky to have a player like that in the team."© PA