Rooney apologises for pitch outburst at fans

Wayne Rooney has apologised for "any offence caused" by his post-match rant at England's fans in Cape Town last night.

As he made his way off the pitch following the goalless draw with Algeria, a result that leaves England's qualification hopes hanging by a thread, Rooney turned to a television camera and condemned the fans who had booed the Three Lions' performance, before swearing.

After reflecting on his conduct overnight, Rooney admitted he had gone over the top.

"Last night, on reflection I said things in the heat of the moment that came out of frustration of both our performance and the result," Rooney said in a statement issued by the Football Association.

"For my part I apologise for any offence caused by my actions at the end of the game."

The 24-year-old allowed his frustrations to spill over after failing to score in his sixth consecutive tournament game, a run that dates back to Euro 2004.

Rooney's overall display was well below his usual level, prompting further questions to be raised about the Manchester United man's fitness.

Clearly agitated at a draw that left England in third place in Group C and outside the top two qualifying slots ahead of their final game with Slovenia in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday, Rooney snapped: "Nice to see your own fans booing you. If that's what loyal support is."

He then muttered a swear word as he walked towards the home dressing room, which was subsequently entered by an unauthorised supporter, shortly after the departure of Prince William and Prince Harry, prompting a major police inquiry.

The words were replayed almost immediately and have made headlines around the world.

With such a big match now looming and the pressure on him to deliver mounting, Rooney has taken the correct course of action by dealing with the matter so swiftly.

And he has also issued a rallying cry he hopes will lead to unity as England chase that crucial victory this week.

"I am as passionate about the England team as anyone," he added.

"The most important thing now is to regroup, be positive and work towards winning the game on Wednesday.

"To do this the players will need the support of the fans more than ever."

Although England fans have a reputation for being hard to please, it is hard to imagine they will turn on their talisman.

Indeed, some may view Rooney's conduct as being an admirable show of hunger and commitment, even if it was directed towards them.