Steven Gerrard has revealed that Wayne Rooney struggled to cope with the enormous pressure he was put under during the European Championship.
The England striker was compared with Pele by manager Roy Hodgson and considered to be the match-winner-in-waiting while he served a two-match ban in the group stages.
Rooney was also one of the first players Hodgson spoke to after becoming England boss and the manager made it clear that great things were expected of the Manchester United player, a view shared by fans.
But captain Gerrard said it was a burden for the forward, who was unimpressive when he returned to action.
'At this level one of the biggest things is playing without expectation or fear,' he said.
'It is only normal if Wayne is weighed down with that feeling of expectation because everyone expects him to do well.
'Since he's been around, there's been pressure because of his performances in 2004. Wayne is expected to come to these tournaments and win them all on his own.
'The responsibility has got to be on all 23 players. It's unfair to look at Wayne and say because he never played well, he's the reason why we don't do well at these tournaments.'
Gerrard also hit out at critics, including his Liverpool team-mate Jamie Carragher, who claimed England will fail at the 2014 World Cup.
He said: 'Should we give up? Should we not go because of what Jamie Carragher said?
'Everyone is down, everyone's sad and there is doom and gloom about, but we will keep working and bounce back. Hopefully, we'll put it right.'
Cities & Stadiums
The Top 3 Teams of Previous Tournaments
|2008||Spain||Germany||Russia / Turkey|
|2004||Greece||Portugal||Netherlands / Czech Republic|
|2000||France||Italy||Netherlands / Portugal|
|1996||Germany||Czech Republic||France / England|
|1992||Denmark||Germany||Netherlands / Sweden|
|1988||Netherlands||Soviet Union||Italy / West Germany|
|1984||France||Spain||Denmark / Portugal|
|1972||West Germany||Soviet Union||Belgium|