Capello went out on limb to fight for my Euro 2012 dream, says thankful Rooney
22:53 GMT, 17 June 2012
Wayne Rooney has admitted he owes a debt of gratitude to Fabio Capello for salvaging his Euro 2012 dream.
When a three-match ban was initially slapped on Rooney for kicking Miodrag Dzudovic in last October's encounter with Montenegro, the Manchester United striker feared he would not get selected for this summer's Finals.
After all, he reasoned, should England fail to emerge from their group, he would have zero involvement.
Seeing red: Rooney is dismissed by Wolfgang Stark after lashing out in Montenegro clash (below)
It was Capello who insisted the Football Association should appeal on Rooney's behalf, a stance that was proved correct when UEFA sliced a game off Rooney's suspension.
So, the 26-year-old is free to tackle co-hosts Ukraine in Donetsk on Tuesday, when a draw will be enough to secure a quarter-final berth.
'Being honest, if it had stayed at a three-game ban I wouldn't have expected to be here,' he said.
'I was delighted Capello fought so hard.
'We both went over to Switzerland, appealed it and got lucky to get it down to two games.
'He did (go out on a limb) and I am grateful for that.
'Basically, he said when we went out there if there's one percent of getting the ban down we have to try for it.'
Had Rooney missed out, it would have extended an unhappy sequence of experiences at major tournaments.
Successful appeal: Rooney and Fabio Capello (right) went before the UEFA disciplinary appeals body
Sent off against Portugal in 2006, the striker was an agitated figure in South Africa four years later, lashing out at disgruntled England fans following a dire performance in the goalless draw against Algeria in Cape Town.
Montenegro represented another low point, yet came in a season when Rooney's overall behaviour has been better than ever.
Indeed, his first Premier League booking did not arrive until the penultimate game, leaving him as nonplussed as the rest of us by those significant dips in self-control.
'I've been asked a few times about what happened with that red card,' he said. 'Even now, I honestly can't explain it.
'It's similar to the one in 2006. It's not something I set out to do. I didn't think: “Right, I'm going to kick this player”.
No problems: Rooney happy with his temperament
'I understood straight away it was a mistake and I have had to pay the price.
'Obviously as a player you have bad moments. Sometimes you have to go through those bad moments to experience the good.'
Rooney is not even willing to blame the obvious pressure that comes with being one of the world's most high-profile sports stars for his occasional lapses, simply because he refuses to acknowledge its existence.
'I don't feel it,' he said. 'Sometimes it might look like I do but I never think: “I have to try too hard” to make us win.
'Maybe I would like to walk out and have a coffee, but it's difficult when you have 10 to 15 people following you.
'So sometimes you do lock yourself away. But that's part of it, I suppose.
'There are no problems with my attitude or my temperament. I'm happy and I'm ready to play.'
Nevertheless, as Sir Alex Ferguson always knew when Rooney was getting into scrapes earlier in his career, maturity, and parenthood, has brought a calmer attitude.
Rooney is certainly a less bullish character than before.
For instance, it is hard to imagine him striding through the entrance of the Stary Hotel in Krakow, England's base for the tournament, and declaring: 'The big man is back,' as he did when he arrived back in Baden-Baden following his recovery from a broken metatarsal ahead of the 2006 tournament.
'I don't think I could say that now that Andy Carroll is in the squad,' he said. 'I'm sure you all know I'm a confident person.
'I'm not one to shy away from games. I always want to do well and feel I'm good enough to do that.
'That's been in me since I was a young boy and it won't change.'
Carroll hopes Rooney will spearhead England to Euro 2012 glory – even though his return could lead to the axe for the Liverpool striker.
Team player: Andy Carroll (right) happy to see Rooney return to lead the line
Carroll staked his claim to remain in the side by netting the opening goal with a superb header from Steven Gerrard's cross in England's 3-2 win over Sweden in Kiev on Friday.
But it seems likely himself or Danny Welbeck, who netted the winner against the Swedes, will have to make way on Tuesday against Ukraine for Rooney now the Manchester United striker has completed a two-match suspension.
Carroll said: 'Wayne is fantastic, he is back involved now and it is great for us and it is great for him.
'It's massive, it does give everyone in the squad a lift, and he is a great player.
'He has got awesome qualities. That is what we need really. In training he has done everything – and that's what we need in games.
Selection headache: Hodgson must mix and match
'His return now might give us a good lift now for the later stages of the tournament.
'It will be great, it will be fantastic to have him back.'
In terms of whether he has given England head coach Roy Hodgson a selection headache, Carroll said: 'I just went out there and gave it my all really against Sweden.
'We'll just have to see what happens the next game. But it was a great feeling to start against Sweden.
'I was told on the morning of the game, got my head around it during the afternoon.
'It was a massive game for myself and my country and to come out and score and win was great.'
Carroll is confident England can progress to the last eight by overcoming the co-host nation in Donetsk.
He said: 'Now we think we can finish the job against Ukraine. We are confident.
'We will just need a point to go through but we will go there and try and get the win.'
Carroll believes the nature of England's comeback after trailing 2-1 to the Swedes emphasised the sprit and togetherness in the squad.
He said: 'It was a great performance by everyone and we stuck with it when we went 2-1 down and fought back.
'We've got a great team spirit going on. We just had to stick together. No-one's head dropped.
'We are really close. Back at the camp, we all stick together, we are all good friends and have a laugh and a joke. That is a key really.'