By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) - Andy Murray knows a thing or two about shouldering a nation's expectations, particularly during Wimbledon fortnight, so he was well placed to offer some sympathy to England striker Wayne Rooney Saturday.
England's failure to win the World Cup since 1966 is a fact trotted out as regularly as Britain's lack of a Wimbledon men's singles champion since 1936 and after Friday's dismal 0-0 draw with Algeria it looks unlikely to be put to bed.
It all got too much for Rooney in Cape Town where he shouted sarcastic remarks to a pitch-side camera as England were booed off by their own fans. The striker issued an apology on Saturday.
Murray, who also had some teething problems with the British media and fans, said he understood how Rooney felt.
"The one thing that I do know is that when you are sort of in the heat of the moment, when you have just finished the match, when things haven't gone as you would have liked, you can say things you don't necessarily mean," the Scot told reporters.
"You can be upset or angry about the way you played and therefore say something that you might regret, even 20 minutes, 30 minutes afterwards.
"But it is difficult. It's obviously a lot of pressure on England to do well at the World Cup. It's the same with the tennis players here, with a lot of sport in this country because it gets a lot of coverage."
Since taking the baton from Tim Henman as Britain's Wimbledon flagbearer, world number four Murray has grown to enjoy the spotlight at the All England Club, improving year on year to reach the semi-finals 12 months ago.
This year he has only one other British man for company in the 128-strong draw so the focus will be even more intense. While the support was welcome, Murray said the nation's desperation for sporting success could be tough.
"I think the matches I've played here are some of the best atmospheres I've ever played in," Murray said.
"But, you know, I think to win a World Cup is incredibly difficult and to win Wimbledon is incredibly difficult, as well. These are very, very, hard, hard things to do.
"There's been a lot of people that have come close the last few years, last 10 or 15 years with Tim, and myself last year. We need the support. If we get that, hopefully one day we'll be able to change it."
(Editing by Clare Fallon)