Wayne Rooney may have been viewed as one of the biggest disappointments of the World Cup, but FIFA’s technical experts today praised him out as one of England’s “outstanding” players in the tournament.
The Manchester United striker did not score in any of England’s four games in South Africa and appeared to have been affected by an injury picked up towards the end of last season.
FIFA’s technical report, which has been published today, picks out Rooney, Ashley Cole and Steven Gerrard as England’s outstanding players.
Rooney is described as a “hard-working, energetic striker; worked hard for team; good technique”.
Liverpool midfielder Gerrard was picked out as England’s most influential player and praised as a “dynamic midfielder with good vision and technique, who linked defence and attack”.
Cole, generally recognised as England’s best player in the tournament, was described as a “competitive left-back with good technique, made forceful attacking runs”.
The report was put together by FIFA’s 16-man technical study group, including former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier and ex-Scotland boss and now UEFA technical director Andy Roxburgh.
The report on England stresses “strong, hard-working players” with “aerial strength used effectively at set pieces in defence”.
It also picks out:
* Rapid transition from defence to attack
* Attacks using the width
* Effective use of full-backs
The FIFA report does not pick out three or more “outstanding” players for every country.
For France and Italy, who both went out in the group stage, only one player is mentioned: France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and Italy midfielder Daniele de Rossi.
The report says England’s 4-1 defeat in the first knockout phase at the hands of Germany, together with France and Italy’s exits were “the major shocks of the tournament” and said the three European countries and Brazil had to deal with high levels of expectation.
Jean-Paul Brigger, the technical study group’s director, lauded Spain as the complete team and arguably “team of the century”.
Brigger said: “Spain won the UEFA Euro in 2008 and are now world champions too, which is a stunning success. The Spanish team has grown and developed together and is now capable of fantastic, highly attractive football.
“They’re compact, and tackle and run hard too. Xavi, Iniesta and Xabi Alonso in midfield cover huge amounts of ground but play fabulous football too – it looks pretty and even playful, but it’s actually very hard work indeed.
“They’re a complete team, arguably contenders for team of the century. And up until the final, the Dutch also played some fine football.”