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England v Costa Rica World Cup 2014: Wayne Rooney urges England to get ‘nasty’

Manchester United forward believes that Roy Hodgson’s players were victims of their honesty

Wayne Rooney has called on England players to be more “nasty” if they are to succeed in tournament football, citing Uruguay’s cynical attitude as a key factor in their victory on Thursday night that helped eliminate Roy Hodgson’s team from the World Cup.

Speaking for the first time since England were knocked out by Costa Rica’s win over Italy, Rooney backed Hodgson to push through changes which would improve performances. But the Manchester United man also said that England players needed to adopt a streetwise attitude to tournament football.

He said: “I think you look at teams who have won the tournament over previous years and you can see that nastiness in them. I think we need to get that in us. I feel, as a team, maybe we are too honest. In terms of Uruguay the other night, they stopped the game, they committed I don’t know how many fouls.

“They were clever fouls, really, to slow the game down. I think we’re a bit honest in terms of the way we play. As people have said, it’s small margins. But if those small things can amount to a big thing in terms of staying in the competition or going out, if we can learn that quickly and adapt to that, I think we’ll [improve].”


Rooney was asked about the incident when Uruguay captain Diego Godin, already booked, thrust an arm across the throat of Daniel Sturridge. Very little pressure was applied by the England players to the Spanish referee to dismiss the Uruguayan. Could England have made more of it? “Of course,” Rooney said. “You see players surrounding the referees – I’m not saying Uruguay did that – but I’m the same now. I want to win the game. I got kicked ten times and I don’t think there was a yellow card given to an opponent.

“We try to be honest, but maybe that’s a fault of ours. We gave everything to try and win games. It hasn’t happened. It’s tough. We have to stay strong now and try and improve.”

Asked whether England needed to be more “streetwise”, Rooney agreed. “I think so. You see a lot of the great teams, they have that. I think that will come. But there are a lot of young lads who want to play every minute. They need to learn to slow the game down a bit or control the game a bit more.”

But, he added: “You have to take your chances. If we’d taken at least one of them, we’d have gone on and won the game. That’s what is disappointing.”