LONDON: Wayne Rooney kept his distance from the greatest prize in football on Thursday but is looking forward to reuniting with the World Cup trophy this summer.
Rooney declined the chance to lift the trophy up as the FIFA World Cup tour arrived in London, saying he did not want to tempt fate.
For me it's the biggest trophy in the world and in the summer I hope to be holding it up, said Rooney, the central figure in England's World Cup plans.
If you win the trophy obviously you should be allowed to pick it up, otherwise just leave it alone, the Manchester United striker added.
Some of the greatest footballers ever have lifted this trophy so it was an awesome feeling to get up close to it.
The boys will do everything they can to make sure we see it back here later on this summer.
Rooney admitted that, with 78 days to go to the tournament, the excitement is mounting for players as well as the fans and he fancies England's chances of becoming world champions for the first time since 1966.
I think we have a good chance. We have a lot of experienced players and a lot of young players as well, he said.
Over the last year we've been playing well and hopefully we can take that into the World Cup finals and come back as winners.
We have a lot of good players in the squad and I think we'll be disappointed if we don't come back with the World Cup.
I'm excited it's building up and obviously there is a lot of pressure on us all going to the World Cup.
Rooney told the event, attended by 500 competition winners from around Britain, that his first real memories of the World Cup were the 1998 tournament in France.
He explained: I was about 12 and was sitting at my nan's watching England and Argentina and I saw Michael Owen, who was only 18 at the time.
It was disappointing they went out on penalties that's the worst way you can lose a football match but later I went out playing football with my mates and pretended to be him.
Although I wanted to become a professional footballer, I didn't think at the time I'd be playing with him for England.
Now Rooney is hoping to partner a fully fit Owen who is currently recovering from a fractured foot and looking forward to his return to action with Newcastle at this summer's finals.
He continued: If you look at Michael's record he's a proven goalscorer and every team needs one.
If he isn't fully fit it will be a big disappointment for us all but if he is fully fit it's going to be a big boost for us.
The young Manchester United sensation admitted it took him some time to come to terms with the fame game but that it no longer bothers him being continually in the public spotlight.
I don't tend to think too much about it I think of myself as a football player and try to be as normal as I can. AFP