Frank Lampard sees more than a passing resemblance between Ross Barkley and the Wayne Rooney that burst onto the scene with England at Euro 2004.
Aged just 18, Rooney’s performances belied his tender years in Portugal, netting four goals as he earned a place in UEFA’s team of the tournament.
It was an outstanding breakthrough display that also earned him a move to Manchester United from Everton, who appear to have unearthed another diamond.
Barkley, who made 13 appearances while on loan at Sheffield Wednesday in the 2012/13 season, sparkled on his full England debut against Ecuador on Wednesday, with the 20-year-old’s exquisite solo run and lay-off for Rickie Lambert’s goal a throw-back to the fearless nature Rooney possessed as a teenager.
It is a likeness that Lampard, a part of the Three Lions squad in Euro 2004 and captain in the 2-2 draw in Miami, certainly sees.
“There’s a lot of similarities in there, in their build, where they come from and where they play,” he said. “You can’t deny that.
“Again, it’s that fearlessness of youth. I see the similarities. Great ability on the ball, running at people with the ball and that’s what you want to see.
“I think he’s got the bit between his teeth. He’s more number 10 than I ever was but he’s very good at receiving the ball and turning quickly.
“He’s only going to get better. That’s his first start so considering that when you look at him and what he’s done, he’s made the second goal and shown enough there that we can say that he deserves his place in the squad and he’s a great addition.
“We go to Brazil next week and hopefully he’s going to be confident which is great.
“I don’t think the manager would pick any player that he doesn’t believe can start a game. That’s a manager’s choice.
“The good thing is that you’ve got a few of them lining up, putting in performances. Ox (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain) did it, Raheem Sterling has done it with his performances for Liverpool and glimpses of Barkley. That’s a great problem for the manager.”
While Barkley impressed onlookers and team-mates, Roy Hodgson brought him back down to earth with a bump saying he gave the ball away too much and needed to make better decisions.
The Three Lions boss said “there were other performances out there who merited your ‘obsession’ more than Ross Barkley’s” but Lampard, veteran of 104 caps, was not toeing the party line.
“It’s brilliant,” he said. “It’s brilliant for him, brilliant for the team and individually to see him come through.
“It’s great for the team to have players in those attacking areas who can make things happen. I’m sure he will have learnt a lot from the game in terms of positions to pick up, times to turn, times not to.
“But when you’ve got players like that in a team, players who can run away from people and make things happen, then you’re very happy.
“He’s a young boy and good luck to him. It’s good to see him come in and do so well.”