Hodgson, who compared the Manchester United frontman to Brazil legend Pele during Euro 2012, said as England prepared to fly home from Polkraine:
“Of course, I think we put a lot of expectations on him.
“When he missed the first two games, we were all believing, ‘What we need to do now is get to the third game and Wayne Rooney will win us the championship.’
“That maybe was too much to ask of him. He certainly tried very hard, but he didn’t have his best game. I think he would admit that.
“That might be down to a number of factors, but I don’t think that fitness itself was a particular factor.
“Well , we do (put pressure on players), but so do other teams, don’t they? I think had Andrea Pirlo played poorly against us, it might have affected the Italians’ performance.
“I think, in all top international teams, you’re looking at one, two, possibly three individuals that everyone recognises as being exceptional world-class talents.
“When you get to the big stage, you’re hoping those players perform and show they’re world-class talents – the Maradonas that win a World Cup with his performance.”
Rooney has underperformed at the last THREE major tournaments that England have played in; 2006 and 2010 World Cups and now the 2012 Euros.
It is amazing that Rooney’s goal against Ukraine was his first in a major tournament in eight years.
Much was made of Rooney lacking match fitness and sharpness after missing the first two games of the Euros due to suspension, but Hodgson dismissed that idea insisting that it is not a matter of lacking fitness that caused Rooney to play so bad, he just did not show up on the big occasion.
“We haven’t noticed anything with his fitness levels, to be frank. We’ve monitored his fitness levels and in training he has looked very fit” said Hodgson.
“In the first game he didn’t show any particular signs of lacking any fitness and he played the 120 minutes against Italy.
“I think what you might be saying is that you’re a bit disappointed with his performance and maybe thought he could have played better.
“It’s not necessarily related to this (fitness).
“You could put fitness down to anything. That was the classic Italian trick. Every time an Italian team loses a game, you hear they’re not fit.
“You can put a lot of things down to fitness, but there was no reason for us to doubt his fitness. His running stats in the training sessions and the games were actually very good.”
I cannot remember the last England manager to be honest and point fingers and players for not performing. It s kind of refreshing to see Hodgson do it.