Football: Sterling dismisses 'too tired' charges, Rooney says trophy beats scoring records

LONDON (AFP) - Raheem Sterling has denied telling manager Roy Hodgson that he was too tired to play for England in a Euro 2016 football qualifier last year.

Hodgson has revealed that the Manchester City winger told him he was fatigued ahead of the final training session in the build-up to the game against Estonia in Tallinn last October.

Eventually, Sterling was left out of the starting line-up for the Group E encounter, but he came off the bench in the second-half in time for Wayne Rooney's late free kick which gave England a 1-0 victory.

Following the match there were accusations that the then Liverpool forward had said he did not want to play, but he insists nothing could be further from the truth.

"That was so crazy I don't think that could happen again, for anyone," the 20-year-old, who has 17 international caps, told the Guardian.

"The manager asked me a question and, being the person I am, I answered honestly. He asked me how I was feeling and I said I was OK but 'my legs do feel a bit tired'.

"I never once said: 'I don't want to play' or anything like that. He just asked me a general question and I was honest. I didn't lie and say: 'Oh yes, I feel 100 per cent,' but at the same time I never said I didn't want to play.

"Obviously, the manager changed his mind about me playing and probably based it on that conversation but I was just being honest."

Rooney, meanwhile, has made it clear that winning a trophy with his country would be better than any individual accolade that comes his way.

The Manchester United striker broke Bobby Charlton's international goal-scoring record by notching his 50th strike for England against Switzerland last month.

Rooney has expressed his pride at passing Charlton, but the 29-year-old has stressed that winning a World Cup or a European Championship would mean so much more.

"I would be lying if I were to say that breaking records and making history for doing so was not something that I feel very proud of doing," the England captain said on www.officialwaynerooney.com

"But if I could win a major trophy with England, like Sir Bobby Charlton and his team mates did, then that would be the ultimate."

The former Everton striker, who is also just 14 behind Charlton's record total of 249 goals for the Red Devils, is dreaming of being able to look back on a moment of glory for England when he retires.

"Later on when my career has come to an end and I'm sitting reminiscing with our grandkids, it would be wonderful if I still was the player who has scored the most goals for his country and with a bit of luck also for my club. A trophy as well would be incredible," he added.