England striker Wayne Rooney has admitted that he is enjoying what is a “perfect” role for him in the England team.
Rooney went through a barren run under previous coach Steve McClaren, but under Fabio Capello he is the top scorer in European qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with nine goals.
Aston Villa striker Emile Heskey has proved to be the perfect foil for the Manchester United forward.
“I love playing up front with Emile,” he said. “He is big, strong and holds the ball up. He allows me and Steven [Gerrard] to get into space, get on the ball and express ourselves. Obviously he has been criticised about his goalscoring but what he brings to the team is different. It is great to play off him.
“This is similar to my first year with England. After those Euros  I got used in different positions. It is not too different now but the manager is allowing us to go forward. If Steven is right up the pitch I can fill in for him and it is the same the other way round. It is good to have that rotation.
“It is the perfect role for me and it is working really well. I just hope this time I can stay fit and do all the training beforehand. That will make a big difference. Football is different for me now. I think about the game a lot more. At 16 there is no fear whatsoever – you just play and enjoy it.
“But the more games (you play) you wonder about what is going to happen if you win or lose.
Rooney was quizzed about his temperament on the pitch, but he feels he is much calmer than in his younger days.
“There is a balance that you need to get right because if you go over the top, you will miss a lot of games through suspension,” he said. “And if you’re too aggressive, you can’t really concentrate on the game,” he said. “The frustration does build up if you are not scoring even if you still play well. I am not saying it makes you do stupid tackles but you do get frustrated.”
Asked about the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo from Old Trafford, Rooney said that he had been following his former team-mate’s progress in Madrid.
“It is clear for everyone. Ronaldo is definitely the best player. He scores goals and I have watched his first few games for Madrid and he seems to have improved again. He is even passing the ball a lot more!
“At United, people said he didn’t run back. But look at what he did going forward. As a team we realised that if he was as good as that going forward, we had to make up for it by going back. That is what happened and we were very successful, so you can’t argue.
“I hope I can take my game to the next level as well. Physically, Ronaldo improved a lot over the last three years. He worked hard in the gym and got a lot tougher. I am still trying to improve most areas of my game, especially my link-up play, goalscoring and heading. I should score more often with my head.”