By 90Min
October 09, 2017

Sven-Goran Eriksson believes that after a career of record-breaking achievements, Wayne Rooney has earned the same level of respect as Roma legend and World Cup winner Francesco Totti.

Rooney announced his retirement from international football in August after breaking England's all-time goal scoring record, notching 53 goals in 119 appearances for the Three Lions.

However, in spite of achieving this remarkable feat, the 31-year-old striker has faced criticism throughout his career and recently has been derided for his lacklustre performances, with many feeling that a forward of early promise should have been capable of achieving more - particularly at international level.

Eriksson, who managed England between 2001 and 2006 and handed Rooney his first ever international cap, has spoken out about how Rooney is criticised and how he feels it is unjust. 

"The treatment of Wayne Rooney told me something about the way England fans view the national team," the Swede wrote in the Daily Mail.

"He's the record goalscorer for both Manchester United and England: you can't argue with that.

Michael Steele/GettyImages

"If Rooney had been Italian, he would have been loved like Francesco Totti was at Roma. You don't criticise Totti in Italy. There might have been reasons to, sometimes, but you don't touch him.

Francesco Totti had a similarly impressive record for both club and country. However, on the international stage the Italian playmaker enjoyed much greater success, helping lead his team to their fourth World Cup in 2006.

"Was he [Rooney] appreciated as he might have been as an England player? Maybe not," Sven explained. You look at the way some of the big English players in the past, like Rooney and David Beckham, have been criticised and you have to ask: What do you want these players to be?"

The former Three Lions coach also spoke of the expectations on England as a team as they head towards the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

"England go to Russia knowing there are the usual big expectations, of course. I would guess that only the Brazilian team know anything like it. The dream of all England fans is to do what they did in 1966. So, yes, it is almost unique.

"But while that pressure might be difficult, in another way it is beautiful — all that interest in the national team and all the support. You have to look at it positively.

"When you go to these tournaments, it's like you are in a one-month party. It's a fever. For those of us in football, it's the best thing we can live in our lives. To feel that pressure is good. It's beautiful, the best thing you can have in football."

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