Wayne Rooney has made his prediction for EURO 2020.
The tournament kicks off next Friday and the ex-Three Lions skipper has revealed his thoughts in a column for The Times.
As a teenager, the former Manchester United man and current Derby County manager burst onto the scene for England at EURO 2004 becoming a household name across the continent in the process.
Now, ahead of the 16th edition of the Euros, the Rams boss has made his prediction for who will be crowned champions.
The Three Lions and France are widely regarded as the two outstanding favourites, while Portugal and Germany (who are in the ‘group of death’ along with Les Blues) are also in strong contention.
Although many believe home advantage will help England earn their first European title, Rooney is backing France to win the Henri Delaunay Trophy.
He wrote: “England are among a group of four teams that stand above the rest in terms of prospects at Euro 2020. Portugal and Belgium are in there too, but my clear favourites are France.
“Kylian Mbappe, N’Golo Kante, Karim Benzema, Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, Raphael Varane, Hugo Lloris: you look at their quality, experience and track record as world champions and realise that if their players turn up, they will win the tournament, no problem.”
Despite their obvious quality, Rooney reckons Didier Deschamps’ side’s togetherness – shown as they won the most recent World Cup – will be key to their success.
“They are not just a collection of great talents,” said the ex-striker.
“On the pitch, as we saw in Russia in 2018, France are very much a team and unity gets stronger when you win things together.
“I just cannot imagine any one of Didier Deschamps’ players thinking, ‘I’m going to be the star to win the tournament for us.’ They will take their time, be composed, and try to do it together.”
On the topic of team players, Rooney identified a man who he thinks perfectly fits that bill, labelling him a blend of two of the Premier League’s greatest ever midfielders.
“France have perhaps the ultimate team player in Kante,” he stated.
“In the Champions League final, he gave the perfect performance. He does everything: breaks up play but then plays in tight areas and starts off the attack.
“You used to see it with Yaya Toure, how he would get the ball and burst forward with it and it is so hard to defend against. Kante does all that but also protects his defence like Claude Makelele once did – only better.
“It’s unbelievable to have a footballer who is Toure and Makelele rolled into one — and then there’s Kante’s energy. At Chelsea, you see his energy bringing a lot out of the other players.”
So where does the Blues workhorse rank in Rooney’s estimations?
“Whenever Kante bursts forward you’ll see two or three of them bursting forward too, not worried about leaving their positions because if the ball is turned over they know he’s going to get back in shape and break up the counter-attack.
“For me he is the best midfielder in the world.”
France’s campaign begins against Germany on Tuesday, June 15.