LISBON: Wayne Rooneys storming performances at Euro 2004 have helped boost Englands belief they can make a major impact on the tournament, according to captain David Beckham.
The Real Madrid midfielder leads his side into todays clash with Croatia knowing a draw would be enough to see them into the quarter-finals but also aware that defeat would spell an early flight home.
We cant even think about that, Beckham insisted.
The most important thing for us is to concentrate on Croatia and our own performance. It is unthinkable that we should go out at this stage, with the team and the players weve got. We cant even think about going into this game wanting a draw, we must go into it wanting to win.
Englands hesitant display in the 3-0 victory over Switzerland two-goal hero Rooney excepted did not do much to encourage optimism among their supporters.
But Beckham insisted that the squads confidence was growing rather than shrinking.
We played well against France and the reason we didnt play as well against the Swiss was because it was really hot out there and it was never going to be fluid football. But the team came more together from that result. Having three points now, we want to end up with six points.
Rooneys display against the Swiss has certainly helped Englands confidence and Beckham said the rest of the squad were happy to let the 18-year-old dominate the headlines.
To be performing at this level in this way at 18, its very special. Were all very thankful that hes in our team, Beckham said.
The Everton striker is being linked with a big money move to Chelsea or Manchester United after the tournament but Beckham believes the teenager would be better advised to stay close to his support network of family and friends in his home city.
I think its sensible for him to stay where he is happy, Beckham said.
If that is at Everton, then so be it. If its at other clubs, then Im sure he will decide what happens to him. Hes only 18 and as long as hes at a club that will look after him and what is most important for him, thats what he should do.
A move to Chelsea would provide Rooney with the opportunity to play in the Champions League. England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson acknowledged that could help his development, although he also stressed that Rooney had not done badly so far without any European experience at club level.
He is where he is and he has been playing for Everton and not in Europe. I dont think that is absolutely necessary but I suppose his agents will be getting a lot of phone calls, Eriksson said.
If Rooney does end up at Chelsea next season, he could find himself playing alongside Steven Gerrard, another England colleague, who is being courted by the London clubs billionaire owner, Roman Abramovich. AFP