Cape Town - Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson believes Everton striker Wayne Rooney would be admired and adored like Francesco Totti if he were Italian.
The former Manchester United star retired from international football in August, with a record 53 goals in 119 games for his country. Despite his record, the 31-year-old was often criticised for his England performance.
Eriksson has compared Rooney to retired Italian superstar Francesco Totti, who is loved by Italian football fans, stating that he should be looked up to in the same way as the former Roma striker.
"The treatment of Wayne Rooney told me something about the way England fans view the national team," the Swede wrote in the Daily Mail.
"He's the record goalscorer for both Manchester United and England: you can't argue with that.
"If Rooney had been Italian, he would have been loved like Francesco Totti was at Roma. You don't criticise Totti in Italy. There might have been reasons to, sometimes, but you don't touch him.
"It isn't like that with Wayne and England but I can tell you that he had to be dragged away from training because he loved to play and practice so much."