Rooney targeting Euro 2016 victory rather than mere progress

Only once in the last 10 years have England made it to the quarter-finals of a major tournament but all-time top scorer Wayne Rooney is already looking beyond that mark - and at winning Euro 2016.

"We are here and we want to win it," he said ahead of Monday's last 16 clash against Iceland in Nice, with a quarter-final tie against France or Ireland awaiting the winner.

"We are not going to say that getting to the quarter-finals will be a sign of progress. I believe we are better than that."

England were a mixed bag in progressing from Group B as they dominated all three matches but finished runners-up behind Wales having drawn twice and won once.

Iceland had an identical record to shock Portugal and Austria into third and fourth place in Group F and they were only behind winners Hungary on goal difference.

Rooney is at his sixth major finals with England but in that time has won only one knock-out tie - against Ecuador in the 2006 World Cup.

"Other tournaments have not gone great for me," he said. "I have always held a lot of pressure, feeling I have to be the one who has to win games.

"But we now have a lot of players who can do that and I am happy to sit in the background. If I have to be the person to step up and win us games, I will do that."

Despite being England's record scorer with 52 goals, Rooney has been used in a deeper role at the tournament with Harry Kane, Daniel Sturridge and Jamie Vardy fighting it out for the striking positions.

Manager Roy Hodgson has changed his team throughout the competition and has come under fire for apparently not knowing his strongest eleven.

It's going to be tough but we are confident, we have a very good team," Rooney said.

England have been practising penalties having been eliminated in shoot-outs five times since 1990 and failure to progress would be a catastrophe for Hodgson personally - he would almost certainly not have his expiring contract renewed.

"I wouldn't want to be Roy Hodgson if he lost to Iceland," Iceland co-coach Heimir Hallgrimsson said.

"There's less risk for us to get the sack if we lose against England than vice-versa. Everything is connected to expectations," the other co-coach, Lars Lagerback, added.

There is no doubting Iceland, with a population of just 330,000, have overachieved in reaching this stage. Win or lose against England, they can expect a heroes' welcome when they finally return home.

But the minnows are not planning on leaving France just yet.

“We may not have players who all play for Barcelona and Real Madrid – but I believe we can beat England,” defender Ragnar Sigurdsson said.

“Our faith and belief is what has got us here so far – and some Icelandic pride. We do not back down from anyone, and that team spirit and belief helps us a lot."

Last update: Sat, 25/06/2016 - 10:31
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