Rooney targets World Cup as icing on the cake

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By Mike Collett

LONDON (Reuters) - Two unrelated events in the last year have had a huge impact on Wayne Rooney's life.

The departure of Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United at the end of last season changed Rooney's role on the pitch and the arrival of baby son Kai in November changed his life off it.

"I hope to do better than them because, if that happens, then England have to win the World Cup so I will be happy on both fronts," he said after being named the Professional Footballers Association Player of the Year at the end of April.

The Footballer of the Year award, voted for by the country's football writers, followed a few days later and added to the happiness in both his private and professional life.

As his wife Coleen told Hello! magazine in an interview in April, Rooney is definitely enjoying his new responsibilities.

"He's a natural with the baby. Wayne is so patient and that is especially good."

The 24-year-old remains as brave and strong as when he made his debut for Everton aged 16, looking every inch an England striker in the making.

However, his growing maturity appears to have softened his quick temper which often got him into trouble with referees. He was sent off after a confrontation with Ronaldo in England's quarter-final defeat by Portugal at the 2006 World Cup.

Ronaldo's departure from Old Trafford meant Rooney's role for United changed from one of a deep-lying forward looking to bring others into play into an out-and-out striker.

He scored 34 goals for United in all competitions this season but remained as effective a creator of chances as a scorer of breathtaking goals.

(Editing by Robert Woodward)