Rooney fights England's corner
World Cup 2010: Rustenburg
Franz Beckenbauer's wide-ranging condemnation of England has had an instant and desired effect - at least as far as manager Fabio Capello is concerned.
Wayne Rooney's cold-eyed response to a German inquisitor at England's Rustenburg training base was enough to confirm that criticism levelled by 'Der Kaiser' has been carefully noted by Capello's biggest weapon.
The representative of German newspaper Bild asked: "If you qualify for the next round, which I'm convinced you will, would you prefer to play Germany?"
Rooney did not even blink as he replied: "Of course. Yes." And when pressed for an explanation, he added: "Because it would be nice to beat them."
Cue headlines for Bild - and cue a vital sign that Rooney is desperate to make his impact on a World Cup that got off to a slow start for the 24-year-old Manchester United striker against the United States.
The exchange was brief but laced with significance. Rooney was delivering the message that England are unmoved by German mind games or efforts to dent confidence ahead of a potential meeting further down the line.
Rooney has admitted that he struggles to cope with the boredom of "Camp England" life during major tournaments. The games are what he lives for. And his desire to emulate legends such as Pele and Diego Maradona and put his name to a World Cup was obvious in every word at Wednesday's media conference.
"The last World Cup was a disappointment for me after getting sent off against Portugal, so I'm looking to do well in this one," Rooney reflected. "The thing that drives me on is trying to win for England and trying to do well at world level.
"You think of the history of the World Cup and you look at what Maradona did in the 1986 World Cup and what Pele did in three World Cups. They are the two stand-out players who took this tournament by the scruff of the neck and virtually won it single-handedly. If I can do half of what they did, it would be great."
And Beckenbauer's pessimistic message may just have provided an extra incentive for Rooney to work off his obvious frustrations on Joachim Loew's developing Germany team should they meet in the last 16.
Rooney's regime at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus offers him ample opportunities to improve his snooker and darts - but there is no disguising it is on the football pitch where he would prefer to exercise his natural competitive instincts.
"I don't really enjoy sitting around or lying in bed at two in the afternoon," he added. "It is quite boring, but thankfully the games are on now and we can watch them. It takes a bit of the boredom away."
Rooney's typical day - "breakfast, training, lunch, bed, dinner, bed" - is all preparation for his role as England's attacking spearhead, a player as close to irreplaceable as Capello possesses.
Capello may toy with the idea of playing a different strike pairing against Algeria on Friday - he says he is currently torn between Tottenham's Jermain Defoe and Aston Villa's Emile Heskey - but one factor will remain constant throughout England's time here in South Africa.
And it is the absolute reality that England's hopes of serious progress in the World Cup rest heavily on Rooney's broad shoulders.
He was a subdued figure against the United States but is confident he is now in the sort of form and fitness that enabled him to keep Manchester United's ultimately vain title pursuit alive almost single-handedly at times last season.
"I think this is a great opportunity for England and also for myself to prove myself at world level," commented Rooney. "If I didn't do that, I would be disappointed."
It came as something of a surprise to hear Capello state that he is considering exchanging Heskey for Defoe against the Algerians, as Rooney has never looked a natural fit alongside the Spurs striker, whose best work for England has come as an impact substitute.
If Capello is not erecting a smokescreen and is seriously contemplating an attacking change, with Gareth Barry also finally fit to return in midfield, Peter Crouch's excellent goal record might make him a more deserving case to come in to face Algeria than his Spurs club-mate Defoe.
Crouch's efforts at international level are often damned with the faint praise of suggesting he only flourishes against the lesser lights of international football - which means Algeria surely fall into the category of opposition he has terrorised for England.
Whoever is selected, Capello will be happy to see Rooney place them firmly in his giant shadow by producing the sort of performance that makes him one of England's few undisputed world-class players.