Sam Allardyce has told Wayne Rooney to continue in his role as England captain – by following the leadership blueprint of Jay Jay Okocha.
Manchester United forward Rooney, who succeeded Steven Gerrard as England captain following the 2014 World Cup, retains the armband following Allardyce’s appointment as Roy Hodgson’s successor as manager.
The 30-year-old will lead Allardyce’s team in the opening World Cup qualifier against Slovakia in Trnava on Sunday, with Allardyce admitting that Nigerian midfielder Okocha, who captained his Bolton side, has set the bar high for Rooney to emulate as his best skipper.
“On and off the field, Jay Jay was the captain you looked for,” Allardyce said. “In a multi-national side from all over the world, he could speak four different languages and communicate very well with some of the players who couldn’t speak quite as good English.
“He sorted the odd scuffle out in the dressing room, talked to the players about how we had to go out and win. He’d take the manager’s instructions and apply them in the right way.
“Then there was outstanding ability on the field, leading by example and showing everybody he wasn’t a mercenary which was suggested in the beginning, that he’d only come for the money.”
This report was first published in the Independent