LONDON, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Peter Shilton is not overly keen on the prospect of Wayne Rooney breaking his England caps record even though he describes the Manchester United striker as “a little genius” and “a street fighter”.
The former Nottingham Forest, Southampton, Leicester City, Stoke City and Derby County goalkeeper made 125 appearances for his country between 1971-90 and Rooney is closing rapidly on his total, having already played 101 times by the age of 29.
“If he does beat my record I’ll be the first to congratulate him,” Shilton told Reuters in an interview.
”I wouldn’t say I want him to beat my record because I‘m very proud of it but if he does it means he’s going well and England are going well so from that respect I’ll be pleased.
“He hasn’t really done it in major tournaments for England for one reason or another, the last World Cup in Brazil and the one before in South Africa for example, but to me he’s always been a little genius, a little street fighter,” said Shilton.
“He’s someone you want in your team and he does score goals at international level. He’s playing well and anything could happen in the next couple of years.”
Shilton, who ended his England career when his side were knocked out in the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup in Italy, does not think it is a foregone conclusion that the 46-goal Rooney will break his record.
“Wayne’s at that stage when he could go on for another three or four years but I’ve also in the past seen people like Gary Lineker and Michael Owen finish their England careers very quickly,” said the 65-year-old.
”Strikers tend to be a little bit like that. Sometimes it depends on the individual although Wayne I look upon as more of a midfield-style player than an out-and-out striker like Lineker or Owen.
“Those two were very much reliant on pace and when a little bit of that went and they picked up an injury or two, it wasn’t easy for them to get back,” added Shilton.
“Wayne will need a bit of luck. He’s captained the side very well in recent games although not exactly against top quality- opposition,” added Shilton in reference to England’s Euro 2016 Group E qualifying opponents Slovenia, Switzerland, Lithuania, Estonia and San Marino.
“It looks like he’s going to go very close to my record but there’s still a fair way to go and anything can happen.”
Shilton, who won the European Cup with Forest in 1979 and 1980, also said that he believes England’s top three goalkeepers Joe Hart, Fraser Forster and Ben Foster are not quite at the top of the international pile.
“I think Hart at Manchester City makes a few too many mistakes for a top-level keeper and some of that might be down to technique,” he added.
“Forster has done well for Southampton but I also see some bits in games where he could have done a little better,” said Shilton who is the worldwide ambassador for the Sidekick Football Training Machine (www.gksport.co.uk).
”He’s edged in front of Foster who seems to be a little up and down although that could be down to him playing for a struggling team at West Bromwich Albion.
“Hart and Forster are playing for teams that are doing really well and that often has an effect on keepers...but overall there’s not a lot to choose between all three of them.”
Shilton believes goalkeeping standards in the Premier League are generally not what they were.
“I feel techniques are not as good as they could be. It’s sometimes about sharpness and reactions these days,” he explained.
”There are a lot of fantastic saves but I also see a lot of shots going through or under keepers because their technique is not 100 percent.
“They sometimes don’t know to collapse and form a barrier with their legs or to spread themselves. Therefore shots go underneath them especially from close range.” (Editing by Justin Palmer)