Roy Hodgson concedes Wayne Rooney did not make the impact he had hoped for as England made an early exit from the European Championship.
Rooney and his England team-mates lost in a tense penalty shootout against Italy at the quarter-final stage on Sunday. After scoring the winner against Ukraine on his return from a two-game suspension, Rooney was below par in England’s loss.
“I think we put a lot of expectations on Wayne,” Hodgson said. “When he missed the first two games, we were all believing that what we needed to do was to get to the third game and Wayne Rooney will win us the championships.
"That maybe was too much to ask of him. Wayne certainly tried very hard, but he didn't have his best game. I think he would admit that.
“Do we put too much expectation on Rooney? Well we do, but so do other teams with their players, don't they?
“I think had (Andrea) Pirlo played poorly last night, it might have affected the Italians' performance. I think in all top international teams, you're looking at one, two, possibly three individuals that everyone recognises as being exceptional world-class talents.
“When you get to the big stage, you're hoping those players perform and show they're world-class talents, like the Maradonas that win Argentina a World Cup with his performance.”
Hodgson believes Rooney’s fitness was not an issue, despite his only action, coming six weeks prior to his return, was as a second-half substitute against Belgium.
“Well, we haven't noticed anything with his fitness levels. We've monitored his fitness levels and in training he has looked very fit.
“In the first game (against Ukraine) he didn't show any particular signs of lacking any fitness and he played the 120 minutes last night. I think what you might be saying is that you're a bit disappointed with his performance and maybe thought he could have played better.
“It's not necessarily related to this (Rooney's fitness). You could put fitness down to anything. That was the classic Italian trick. Every time an Italian team loses a game, you hear they're not fit.
“You can put a lot of things down to fitness, but there was no reason for us to doubt his fitness. His running stats in the training sessions and the games were actually very good.”© PA