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09 Nov 2010

Frank Lampard has jumped to the defence of England team-mate Wayne Rooney and has criticised those who make "lazy" assumptions about the player and dismiss him as being thick.

Rooney's recent contract U-turn at Manchester United, alongside headlines regarding his private life, has led to a great deal of criticism of the player but Chelsea midfielder Lampard believes it is wholly unjustified and insists the Rooney he knows is nothing like the public preconceptions that have been built up around him.

"People who call him thick, it's just a lazy thing to say by looking at him and saying 'he's a footballer, he looks quite tough because he's come from that background' and all that kind of stuff and the way he plays, but he is sharp," Lampard to BBC Radio Five Live.

"I think the people who are calling him thick have got a certain element of thickness about them, because they haven't even invested the time to speak to him. He doesn't speak to the press that much for them to make that judgement of him.

"He's a confident boy, and he has a sensitive side to him. During the World Cup we'd sit in a room together and watch some of the other games and stuff like that.

"If you read the headlines of the last few weeks you can get an impression of someone but he's a very sensitive lad, you can have a good conversation with him about anything you want. He's a very cute, worldly lad for how young he is. He has no problem relating to older players, he treats everyone the same.

"Some people like to align themselves to the bigger names in the squad, to speak to certain players or stick to their own little group. Wayne talks to David Beckham the same as he would to a new player who's just come into the squad from Stoke or Bolton, and that's the beauty of him I think as a person.

"He's got a great sense of humour. I love being around people who will make me laugh, and he makes you laugh constantly. When you're sat at a dinner table with 20 people he can dominate the conversation just through wit and the confidence in the way he speaks."

Lampard recalled Rooney made an instant impression on him when he was first called up by England.

"The first day he trained you could see he had this touch and awareness that a genius touch," he said. "I'd only seen three players in my career like that - Paolo Di Canio, Gianfranco Zola and Paul Gascoigne when I was a kid training with England - that had this genius kind of thing about them, and Wayne had that instantly as a 17-year-old."


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