Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Glenn Hoddle believes teenage sensation Wayne Rooney can inspire his team-mates at the World Cup next year, in the same way Diego Maradona did when Argentina won the trophy in 1986.
Rooney, 19, has been tipped to be one of the stars of next year's finals in Germany, with Hoddle insisting the Manchester United striker needs to be on top form if England are to take the crown from favourites Brazil.
The former England manager sees Rooney as having the same pivotal role in the team as Maradona or France playmaker Michel Platini.
Hoddle said of Rooney: "He's an extra special player. What he does is raise the standard, that's what Platini did for France and Maradona for Argentina.
"If you look at every team to win the World Cup they have an extra special player who can lift the team. We had Bobby Charlton in 1966. A player who can lift us to another level."
Rooney returned from suspension for England's final qualifying game, the youngster starring in an impressive 2-1 win against Poland on Wednesday.
"It doesn't matter if he plays against Brazil or anyone else," Hoddle said. "When he plays, other players score and find space because defenders are on him, it's always good to have a player like that."
When asked if England could win the World Cup, Hoddle said: "Personally, (I think) they could - but if you pushed me, I think Brazil will win. There's a good chance we'll have a good World Cup."
Hoddle, who took England to the second round in 1998, added: "I think Brazil are a class above, they're getting close to a better set than they were last time (when they won in 2002) and might be around for six years because of the youth they have but apart from that, the group England have and the players we have is level with others."
Meanwhile, England players have leapt to the defence of striker Peter Crouch, after the treatment handed out to him by supporters at Old Trafford.
The Liverpool player was greeted with a crescendo of boos when he was introduced as a replacement for Shaun Wright-Phillips with 20 minutes to go in the 2-1 win over Poland. Crouch had made his competitive England debut in Saturday's 1-0 win over Austria at the same venue, when reaction to his performance was mixed from the critics.
But the likes of Joe Cole and Lampard backed Crouch's ability and urged supporters to get behind the former Aston Villa player, who is still searching for his first Anfield goal after a £7 million summer move.
Cole said: "The reaction was ridiculous. Peter is a great player. He is an important member of the squad and is going to have some great moments in an England shirt. The booing of Peter on Wednesday night was not good. Unfortunately, people believe what they read in the papers."
Lampard said: "Crouchy' did very well for us the other day against Austria. He was very effective and I think he has been very effective for Liverpool.
"We have to get behind people, especially young players coming in and playing their first few games. I hope what happened doesn't affect Crouchy's confidence."
Manager Sven-G^ran Eriksson was quick to defend Crouch after the victory which ensured England topped their qualifying group at the expense of the Poles.
He said: "I don't know who was being booed, whether it was me or Peter Crouch, but we won the game and I'm sorry if anyone thinks Peter Crouch is not a good footballer.