Hodgson is hoping Rooney can have a huge impact on Euro 2012, and like Pele can come to the fore in big tournaments for his country.
"If you look back through the years, if you take Pele for example, he was capable of producing his very best football when it really mattered to help Brazil win World Cups," said Hodgson.
"Let's hope that Wayne Rooney can start to do that for us and then, if we win, who knows? If Wayne can produce his best, he can help us keep going even further.
"Everyone knows what Wayne Rooney's all about. He makes us more threatening going forward.
"He's a world-class player and I can see it in his eyes that he's itching to get out there and perform. He could, hopefully, make the difference."