Int Football – Capello: Rooney a future captain

Fabio Capello has identified Wayne Rooney as an England captain of the future and believes the Manchester United star will become an even better player.

FOOTBALL 2007-2008 National England Rooney - 0

Rooney is being strongly tipped to be given his chance in the role by Capello as part of his policy of rotating the armband before naming a permanent skipper ahead of next season’s World Cup qualifiers.

Capello would not confirm who would lead the team out in next month’s friendly with the United States at Wembley but has no doubt Rooney could one day be ideal for the coveted position.

Capello said: “I am undecided who will be captain for the next game and Wayne Rooney is very young but I believe in the future he could be captain of England one day.

“What are his qualities for the role? He is a leader, he is a good example on the pitch.

“Like I said, he is very young so we need to give him a bit more time to get some more experience and mature a bit.

“But I do believe he could one day be captain. He is the most talented young English player and the good thing is he has still got a big margin of improvement ahead of him.

“He is very good at everything. The one thing he can improve is the number of chances he puts away.

“He doesn’t convert as many as he could but I am sure that will come in the future.”

Capello also insisted there is no rift between himself and Michael Owen after comments attributed to the Newcastle striker led to claims the 28-year-old was confused by the Italian’s tactics during the recent friendly with France.

Capello has accepted Owen’s explanation that his remarks were taken out of context and has been happy to see the player who has netted 40 times for England looking back to his best in recent weeks.

Capello said: “First of all, Michael Owen has denied making those comments to begin with and I have absolutely no problem with him. There is no problem between him and me as far as I am concerned.

“My relationship with Michael Owen is the same as with all the players. A good manager should have that equal relationship whether it is with Michael Owen, David Beckham, Rio Ferdinand or anyone else.

“I have a group of players and Michael Owen is part of my plans.”

Capello has been impressed with the deeper role Owen has been given recently by Magpies boss Kevin Keegan and believes that has led to his scoring resurgence.

He said: “Michael Owen has made me think. Recently he has been playing in a different role behind the two strikers for Newcastle and I believe he is scoring because he is playing in that different role.”

Capello was speaking during a trip to Lesotho to help promote the Football Association’s development of the game in Africa at grass roots level ahead of the 2010 World Cup finals.

Capello and former England goalkeeper Ray Clemence – who now has the title of FA head of national teams – observed FA coaches, including former West Ham midfielder Geoff Pike, conducting a training session involving local school teachers and children.

The FA, with the support of FIFA, has agreed to help the game develop in southern African countries ahead of the World Cup finals by providing equipment and qualified coaches as well as sponsoring tournaments.

It is hoped by 2010 that as many local teachers as possible will have taken the FA level one course and will be able to pass on good quality coaching to schoolchildren and young people in rural areas when access to football is limited.

The FA are also aiming to assist the Lesotho, Botswana and Malawi football associations by installing community-based football facilities in the run-up to 2010.

Capello insisted backing such a worthwhile scheme and not gathering support for the World Cup bid in 2018 was his main reason for making the trip.

He said: “This is a worthwhile scheme and I feel it is important I’m seen not only on TV but also on the pitch supporting serious and worthwhile projects like this one. It is important I am involved.”