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Rooney's an inspirational captain, says Beckham

ESPN staff
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David Beckham claims everyone loves Wayne Rooney

Former England captain David Beckham believes Wayne Rooney will be an inspiration to a new generation of the country's players.

Critics have claimed the Manchester United striker does not have the leadership skills required to succeed Steven Gerrard as England's new leader, but Beckham is confident he will establish his authority during the Euro 2016 qualifiers and beyond.

"He's one of the most experienced players in the team now," Beckham said. "He's one of the most respected players in the team. Young players will look up to Wayne for inspiration; he's a player who wears his heart on his sleeve.

"People want to see that passion; you fight for every ball and celebrate every goal you score, or every goal you set up.

"That's what Wayne's all about. Wayne's such a great talent, such a great player, people love him, fans love him and it's great to see him with the armband. It's something I know he'll cherish.

Wayne Rooney led England for the first time after his appointment against Norway © PA Photos
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"At times [the England captaincy is] underestimated, but you really know how important it is when you're part of the squad or you are England captain.

"In our country it means more than anywhere else. To be a captain of the England team was the proudest moment in my career, and people really respect that, they really understand how important it is when you're involved in and around the England team."

Beckham went on to lament the England retirements of Gerrard and Frank Lampard, as he offered this tribute to the duo.

"I'm really sad to see Stevie step down as England captain," he added. "It's a brave decision, because stepping down from playing for your country is always a tough decision.

"But Stevie is a clever lad and such a talented player and without doubt one of the best midfielders I've ever played alongside. You saw his talent from a young age, there aren't many who have everything -- he's one of those players.

"With Frank also retiring, it's also sad to see him go as he's been round so many years with 106 caps. To reach that many caps is an incredible milestone.

"But he's got other things to focus on, like playing for his club, and everyone has to respect that. Frank has had such a great career and he'll continue that at club level."

Phil Jones is playing for sides skippered by the 28-year-old after Rooney was also given the armband for Manchester United this summer, and the 22-year-old centre-back believes the striker is the right choice for the national role.

"I'm delighted for Wayne," Jones told reporters. "He's a terrific player for club and country. He deserved that."

Jones, who has started the season at the heart of the United defence, was brought into the England team in place of Phil Jagielka, who had been a first choice during the World Cup.

"We created quite a few chances and didn't really stick them in the net," he said. "I thought [Rooney] was great. He is always calm and composed and will make a great captain."

Jones was sad to see another United and England attacker, Danny Welbeck, join Arsenal at the end of the transfer window.

"He's been a big player for Man United. I'm sorry to see him go but I wish him all the best," he added. "He's a good friend and a great player as well. He will be a great addition to the Arsenal team."

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