Wayne Rooney admits he will have no excuses if this year’s World Cup – a tournament the England international knows he approaches at the peak of his powers – is another dud.
Back at Euro 2004, the then 18-year-old forward set the world alight with performances that belied his tender years, earning him a place in Uefa’s team of the tournament and a move to Manchester United.
However, Rooney has frustrated with England at major tournaments since then and is determined to make amends this summer at what will be his third World Cup.
The Liverpudlian has failed to score on the world stage so far, although he had to rush back from a metatarsal injury to feature in 2006 and carried an ankle injury into the tournament in South Africa.
There are no such limiting factors this time around, though, and Rooney is all too aware of the need to impress.
“I’ve been here before and I’ve said what I feel I can deliver and what I can do and it hasn’t happened,” he said, speaking at England’s pre-World Cup training camp in the Algarve.
“I think this is the one where I have to show what I can do. I believe I am in the best possible shape and the best condition I can be in to do that.
“I am ready for it. I am excited for it. There will be no excuses this time if I don’t perform. I certainly won’t be looking for any excuses this time.”
Asked if he is in a better frame of mind for the exertions brought by a World Cup, Rooney added: “Yeah, I am. I feel good. I am settled at home with my family. I have no issues whatsoever and I am ready for this tournament. I am going to give everything and leave everything on the pitch.
“As I’ve said before, I won’t have any excuses this time if it doesn’t come off.”
Furthermore, Rooney is also conscious that, now aged 28, this summer represents his best opportunity to make a mark at a World Cup.
“For us, as a nation I think it is the one thing that is missing,” he said. “And then for me, personally, I feel the World Cup in 2018, I’ll be a bit older then so it will obviously be difficult to impact that the way I believe I can do.
“So, I feel this is the really last big one that I feel will probably get the best out of me. I feel ready, fresh and as good as I can do to go into this tournament.”
Rooney’s determination to shine in Brazil was highlighted last week when he took two fitness coaches with him on his pre-tournament holiday to Portugal having missed the last three matches of United’s woeful season.
That dedication to the cause has been praised by manager Roy Hodgson and has seen the forward able to play a full part in each of England’s training sessions in Vale do Lobo so far.
“I missed the last few games of the season and I wanted to make sure I was ready and available to train when the team met up,” Rooney added. “That was the reason behind it.
“It certainly helped me get up to speed again and then, obviously, to join in with the team on the first day, whereas I would have had to do two or three days with the physios and the fitness coaches before I could join in.” Rooney has been impressed by what he has seen from his team-mates so far in Portugal, with the mixture of wily old-timers and youthful exuberance making him hopeful for a summer to remember.
“We can go far [at the World Cup],” he said. “We have got the players and our aim is to win the tournament.
“We don’t want to be going there saying we would be happy getting to a quarter-final or even a semi-final.
“Our aim is to win the tournament – that is what we are preparing for, that is what we hope is going to happen.”