• Returning forward sometimes tried ‘too hard’ for England
• ‘There were times when I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should’
Wayne Rooney, almost for old time’s sake, ended up addressing pressure. This is a player who had grown used to lugging the weight of expectation during an England career that will extend to a 120th cap on Thursday night. Yet the late cameo the DC United striker enjoys against the United States on his first appearance for the national team in 734 days will be different.
For Rooney, this may be a throwback. A chance for the world to recall the tearaway who ripped into Turkey at the Stadium of Light on a first competitive start, or rampaged through all-comers so startlingly en route to the quarter-finals at Euro 2004 in Portugal. At 33, the body will inevitably lack the energy of youth. Time may have dulled some of the zest but the mind will be free. Liberated.