Paul Gascoigne has backed Wayne Rooney to break Sir Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record for England, and joked that when he does so he can pay back the legendary playmaker the £40 he owes him.
Quotes in the Daily Mirror, initially taken by The Sun, confirm Gazza’s belief that Rooney is set to eclipse the 49 goals Charlton notched for his country, with the Manchester United skipper now sitting on 46 following his brace against Scotland.
An England player who was of the highest quality himself, Gascoigne knows a thing or two about highlighting potential, as he revealed an interesting anecdote concerning Rooney about when he met the player as a youngster plying his trade for Everton at under 14 level.
"He scored twice and the second goal was incredible. So I went into the dressing room and said to him, 'Well done mate, that was great goal. You're going to be a great player," he sad.
"I had £40 on me and was always giving money to apprentices because they didn't earn much, I asked 'Anyone want this money?' Rooney said 'I'll have it' and joked, "I'm going to have a pint later' and I thought 'you're going to make it."
"I had £40 on me and was always giving money to apprentices because they didn't earn much, I asked 'Anyone want this money?' Rooney said 'I'll have it'" - Gascoigne
Rooney on top
Whilst Gascoigne himself has continually slipped off the road to recovery in recent years with regards to his battles with alcohol and depression, Rooney has found himself flourishing in exactly the way the 47-year-old predicted.
Having been named United captain in the summer after the appointment of Louis van Gaal, and having assumed leadership of England after Steven Gerrard’s decision to retire from international football, he’s enjoyed something of a renaissance in his career, and has six goals in his last six games for the Three Lions.
That’s a stat that’s made all the more important given that England have been tipped to struggle during their qualification campaign for Euro 2016 in France. Following a disappointing group stage exit from the World Cup this summer - after losing to both Italy and Uruguay - Roy Hodgson’s men were lambasted by many quarters, and the retirement of Gerrard looked to be the icing on the cake.
However Rooney and Co. have looked inspired in their recent outings, and their four wins from four matches sees them sitting pretty at the top of Group E, with the main supposed threat of Switzerland away already dealt with.
Now only Lithuania stand between Hodgson’s men and a reaching the halfway stage of the group with maximum points, and given the fact that the clash is at Wembley the hosts will certainly be favourites.