May 23, 2014, 12:20 PM EDT
It’s no secret that Wayne Rooney has had a tough time of it at many major international tournaments. After racing toward fitness for the 2006 World Cup, he failed to score, then was red carded in the quarter-finals. In South Africa, England were eliminated in the second round. Then in Euro 2012, Rooney missed the first two matches after receiving a red card for a tackle in the final qualifying match.
Perhaps Rooney doesn’t need further training, but rather time to reflect and consider his role in the England squad, and the weight of the expectations that come along with being one of his country’s top players. The English FA has recruited Dr. Steve Peters, the Liverpool club psychiatrist, to work with the players prior to the start of games in Brazil. If players choose, Dr. Peters will be available for consultation.
Rooney scored 17 goals in 29 Premier League appearances for Manchester United this season, but the forward is open to the idea that perhaps it’s the specific pressures of a major tournament that is hampering his form on the world stage:
When you’re going into a tournament, you believe you’re going to do well, so you don’t really feel that pressure, but maybe inside you are, and you just don’t realise. I’ll certainly speak to him and see if it can benefit me. There’s no harm in that. It’s interesting. If it can give me an extra couple of per cent, it’s worth doing. So I’ll speak to him and see how it goes and if it’s worth continuing.
In the last 20 years, England have made it no further than the quarter-finals of the World Cup. Drawn with Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica this time, the Three Lions will need the best from Rooney if they plan to make a deep run in Brazil.
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