England captain Wayne Rooney believes that his Manchester United team-mate Michael Carrick was the best player on the pitch during last night's 1-1 draw with Italy, by a considerable distance.
Carrick was introduced just before the break in Turin after Chris Smalling fell ill, but that misfortune was a blessing in disguise for an England side that were well off the pace and behind on the scoreboard at that point.
The 33-year-old helped Roy Hodgson's side establish long spells of possession late in the second half and found forward passes with authority, qualities that Rooney believes were the difference maker that helped Andros Townsend grab an equaliser late on.
Carrick finally getting credit on international stage
Rooney was quick to point out how vital Carrick's contribution was in his post-match interview, telling reporters: "I thought the best player on the pitch by a mile - when he came on - was Michael Carrick.
"He came on and dictated the game for us and we saw how much control we had from that moment so I think he was the big difference between the two teams in the second half."
Better late than never
In very much the autumn of his career Carrick's technical qualities are finally appreciated on the international stage, by both Rooney and Hodgson.
With Carrick in midfield England looked eminently more capable of keeping possession and more importantly picking out a killer pass where it matters most, attributes that are absolutely vital in the often tight, pressurised world of international tournament football.
Carrick has the opportunity over the next 12 months to finally enjoy a prolonged run in the England side and improve on a haul of 33 caps for his country, as Hodgson's side build towards a Euro 2016 that could prove his defining international moment and swansong all rolled into one.
Man United fans, do you think Carrick gets the credit he deserves, particularly for England? Will he still be important for the Red Devils next season? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!