England vs. San Marino: Wayne Rooney Will Shine in First Game as Captain

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistOctober 11, 2012

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 11: Wayne Rooney speaks to the media during the England press conference ahead of their FIFA World Cup qualifier against San Marino at The Grove Hotel on October 11, 2012 in Watford, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

England should have no problem dispatching San Marino in a World Cup qualifying match on Friday. Manager Roy Hodgson added a little intrigue to the equation, however, by naming Wayne Rooney captain for the game, a role he will embrace.

It's the first time Rooney has been given the chance to lead the Three Lions into battle, based on a report from ESPN. The Manchester United star talked about what the decision means to him as a longtime member of the team.

"It's a great honour and something I am really proud of," Rooney said. "It's a big challenge for myself, and I'm looking forward to it. I'm excited and I am hoping we can cap the day off with a good victory."

Rooney recently returned from a leg injury that forced him to miss a month of action. He's shown off his versatility, filling more of a distribution role in United's lineup after the acquisition of Robin van Persie prior to the season.

The 26-year-old sensation has tallied five assists in four games since his return and will likely play a similar role in the midfield for England due to the team's missing pieces, most notably Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

Rooney has scored 29 times for the Three Lions since joining the squad nearly a decade ago. He's been one of the team's stalwarts over that period, so it's an opportunity that's deserved and a long time coming. He's earned it.

It's also a chance for Hodgson to see how Rooney handles the role in a low-pressure situation. England is heavily favored to defeat San Marino, a team that simply doesn't have the talent level to keep pace with the Three Lions.

The game should be under control by halftime, but it will be interesting to watch how Rooney handles the role. He seems like a player that would really enjoy the situation and use it as added motivation to ensure he's in top form.

Getting a chance to captain his national team to a victory would be yet another memorable moment in a career full of them for Rooney. It's a special honor that only a small fraction of players ever get the opportunity to enjoy.

And Rooney will surely enjoy it. Judging by his comments, he already is. The decision makes an otherwise nondescript qualifier a marquee event.

It's a match an all-time great member of the England squad will never forget.