Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney does not hide from the fact that he has failed to score a goal at a World Cup, something he intends to put right next summer in Brazil.
Wayne Rooney broke a record on Friday: his vital opening goal against Montenegro was his 27th in a competitive international match, the most scored by an England player and surpassing the previous mark set by Michael Owen.
Rooney’s response was admirably competitive. “I’ve not scored in a World Cup [Finals] yet,” he said.
Owen announced himself on the international stage with that astonishing goal, aged just 18, in the 1998 World Cup finals against Argentina. It was the high-point of his international career.
Similarly Rooney’s biggest impact so far for his country came in his first finals – the 2004 European Championship, when he was also 18.
Even now it is amazing to recall he scored twice against Switzerland and twice more against Croatia in group games before he broke a metatarsal in his foot and England went out on penalties against the hosts Portugal.
The disappointments have come thick and fast since then: the 2006 World Cup finals when he was sent off, the 2008 Euros when England failed to qualify, the 2010 World Cup when he struggled and the most vivid memory was of him, pink-faced, angrily hitting out at booing fans in Cape Town after a numbing goalless draw against Algeria and the 2012 Euros when he was first suspended then ineffective.
In eight frustrating matches in World Cup finals, Rooney has not scored. He is well aware of that fact and how he can be accused of underachievement.
If great players are defined by their performances in major finals then Rooney, for all his quality and his importance to England, has undoubtedly fallen short.
Rooney could, in fact, have 28 competitive goals this morning – and 38 overall in his 85 appearances spread over 10 years as an England player – but there was an interesting little vignette at the end of the Montenegro encounter.
Daniel Sturridge, Rooney’s strike partner, was fouled for an injury-time penalty. With Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard having been substituted the spot-kick duties fell to Rooney who had also taken the captain’s armband.
He took the ball – but then handed it to Sturridge. The Liverpool striker stroked it into the net for his second international goal and one with far more significance than his first, which was gained in the 8-0 away trouncing of San Marino.
“I was going to take it and then I asked him if he wanted to take it,” he said. “I think it was good for him, it’s good for the team and it shows that the team spirit within the squad is great.
"We need forwards scoring goals so it was important for him to take it.”
Did it help Sturridge’s confidence? “I don’t think he needs confidence at the minute,” Rooney joked.
“The more players we can get on the score-sheet, particularly the forwards, its better for us. I have always said it’s about the team. If I can score goals; then great.
“Obviously, for Daniel, he hasn’t played that many games for England; for him to get another goal will give him a boost and hopefully he will get another one on Tuesday.”
Rooney has always been a generous player to his team-mates – indeed he attempted to tee up Gerrard to score against Montenegro when he could justifiably have taken a shot himself.
But it will be hoped that his manner before, during and after the match is indicative that he is more settled for club and country.
It helped that not only did Hodgson deploy Rooney through the middle as a central striker but that England, at times, played with a very positive front four.
“The manager showed that he could play a really attacking team with us four, and the experience of Steve and Frank behind us,” Rooney said.
“We all excelled, I thought we played some good stuff, had some good movement, and we scored four goals which I am pleased about.”
Rooney, 28 this month, is also enjoying his senior status within the squad.
“We have got some very exciting players, young exciting players,” the foward said. “I think all the talk about 'there’s not enough good English players’ – well, we have got six, seven or eight young players.
"You see [Andros] Townsend, [Danny] Welbeck, Sturridge, [Phil] Jones, [Chris] Smalling, [Jack] Wilshere, [Alex Oxlade] Chamberlain, [Theo] Walcott – the players we have got there, there’s some talent.
"So, we are happy with the squad we have got.”
The challenge now is clear: beat Poland on Tuesday and England will win Group H and qualify for the World Cup finals.
Anything else and it will be the play-offs. Rooney, despite the ebullience of the Montenegro victory, is aware of the threat.
“It’s a massive game,” Rooney said. “When you look at the two teams, Poland are probably a better team at the moment than Montenegro, I think they are much more dangerous on the counter-attacks and we will have to prepare well for that.
"But if we perform like we did against Montenegro then we will be OK.”
And what if there is another penalty awarded and Sturridge wants to take it?
“Don’t get me wrong,” Rooney said, in another indicator of his maturity.
“If it was 1-0 or there was still a long way to go in the game, I would have taken it. Because, you know, if he [Sturridge] did miss, I wouldn’t forgive myself.”