By Phil McNulty
Our man with England
Wayne Rooney's development into a world superstar grows by the day - on and off the
Rooney was the boy in demand after scoring twice in England's 3-0 win against
Switzerland in Coimbra on Thursday.
Everton's 18-year-old attended the official man-of-the-match press conference in front
of Europe's media, handling the occasion with all the aplomb of his first two
performances for England in Euro 2004.
He then marched briskly into the intimidating arena known as the mixed zone - where
players walk a gauntlet of questions from the assembled media.
This would have been an unthinkable ordeal just a few months ago, as Everton manager
David Moyes and Rooney's advisors kept a strict rein on any appearances or
pronouncements in the media.
Rooney is hardly a natural performer in the manner of David Beckham, but his maturity
is now being witnessed in his words instead of his actions.
Rooney is learning about life in the big time from his team-mates
Gone is the nervous boy who whispered answers when he signed his first Everton contract
to take him away from the £80-a-week-world he had been occupying.
And gone appear to be the shackles on Rooney as he spoke to Europe's media.
Rooney is not yet totally comfortable with the attention, but there is a growing assurance in his appearances.
It has been a remarkable few days for Rooney, who ended the season fighting
relegation with Everton and began England's build-up to Euro 2004 accused by some of
being overweight and out of condition.
He has since roughed up France's imperious defence before cementing his status as
England's star of Euro 2004 against the Swiss.
So how does Rooney deal with the attention and the spotlight that has become more
intense as the tournament has got under way?
He told BBC Sport: "There is pressure in this tournament, there is pressure on everyone
playing in it.
"For me, I'm a young lad here to enjoy myself and do the best I can - and you always
enjoy it when you win and score as well."
But he was also keen to play down his own role in England's win, as well as his
performance against France in the intimidating atmosphere of Lisbon's Stadium of Light on
He said: "We have got a good squad and a good bunch of players, so this is no one-man team, no matter who it is.
"It is not all on me, it is about the other players as well.
"I think the team were a bit nervous, but once we got the goal we settled down a bit, and then we got the second we were a bit more relaxed and knew we were going to win
"We won 3-0 so that's good."
With that, Rooney moved on and out on to England's team bus and away - the only
cloud on his night a booking for a foul on Switzerland goalkeeper Jorg Stiel.
All the signs are that Rooney will have to deal with even more attention in the
months ahead, with his performances in Portugal sure to have serious offers landing on
Everton's mat from the big-money players.
But for now England and coach Sven-Goran Eriksson are witnessing the development of
a prodigy that will serve them well for the next generation.