Manchester United star Rooney, who has also captained England in the past, insists Gerrard's drive from midfield is a major source of inspiration for the side, despite the Liverpool man's deeper role in recent times.
Rooney said ahead of England's World Cup qualifiers this week, per Winter's article:
I think he got the captain's armband a bit later than he should have. I feel he should have been named captain a bit earlier than that. But he is our captain and leader and he is going to be a really important player for us (against Montenegro and Poland).
Steven has been one of the best in the world over the last 15 years. He has adapted his game a little bit. He is not going forward as much as he used to. But he has certainly got the ability to play a bit deeper and play passes out and drive the team on.
He’s our captain. We look to him to give us that drive. He does that. It’s great to see. He has been doing it for years.
In taking the armband for England against Montenegro on Friday, Gerrard will overtake Kevin Keegan to move into seventh in the all-time list of players who have captained England on the most occasions.
Assuming he also skippers the side against Poland, he will move to within just one further appearance of Alan Shearer and John Terry, both of whom led England on 34 occasions.
onwards to Brazil - Captain Gerrard with a rallying cry: "We need to go out and deliver. It doesn’t come much bigger than this"— aidan (@englandyouth) October 8, 2013
At that point, only David Beckham, Bryan Robson, Bobby Moore and Billy Wright will have led the Three Lions on more occasions than Gerrard—although he is unlikely to catch any of that illustrious quartet.
For Rooney's assertion to be correct, Gerrard would have needed to take over the captaincy earlier from Terry, who was the team's official leader in two spells between 2006 and 2012.
While it could be argued that the Chelsea man should never have regained the armband following Rio Ferdinand's brief tenure in 2010-11, it was Gerrard who ended up leading the side on many occasions during that second stint with the defender sidelined through injuries.
Terry, of course, had lost the captaincy originally following allegations of an affair with the girlfriend of England teammate Wayne Bridge, per BBC Sport.
Between 2006 and 2010, though, Terry's performances as England captain were good—particularly after the 2008 arrival of coach Fabio Capello. In that context, he justified his selection ahead of Gerrard or any other player.
Rooney's sentiment, though, will be echoed around the country, with Gerrard regarded as one of England's best and most consistent performers of the past decade.
Sadly, like so many of the so-called "golden generation," his glories at club level look unlikely to be repeated internationally—the cause of regular soul-searching in the English media.
It is Rooney, perhaps, who will be the next player to take on the mantle of becoming England captain. The country's fortunes at major tournaments, though, look unlikely to change anytime soon—regardless of the leader's identity.