Pele: Rooney key for England

Brazil legend Pele has backed England to progress from a tough Group D, and expects Wayne Rooney to be their star performer.

Rooney has come under criticism from some quarters ahead of this year's tournament, and the Manchester United man is yet to score in eight appearances at FIFA World Cup finals. 

However, Pele who won three FIFA World Cups during his illustrious playing career, feels Rooney has what it takes to lead England past Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica and into the last 16.

"I would like him in my team, you know!" he told Sky Sports News

"Wayne Rooney has not scored (in the World Cup finals) but he was fantastic for the team. He was always the player who fought more for the team. The World Cup is a very short tournament and the experienced players always do well.

"England have a difficult group but I think they could pass."

Despite the unrest and protests that have blighted the build-up to the World Cup, Pele is eagerly awaiting the start of the tournament, which kicks-off on Thursday with hosts Brazil taking on Croatia in Sao Paulo.

"I am very excited. I hope that everything goes ok," he added.

"I agree people have to complain about the corruption and the politics - no doubt. But, football was always the big promoter of Brazil. Football always put Brazil at the top."

On Brazil's chances of lifting the World Cup for a sixth time, Pele is confident that the tournament will end on a high for Luis Felipe Scolari's side, although he admits there are a plethora of teams capable of going all the way.

"Always I trust Brazil are going to win the final, it doesn't matter against who," he said.

"But besides Brazil I see Germany. We have to respect Spain. In South America I think Argentina and maybe Chile - Chile have a good team, they could be the surprise."