Rooney compares Sterling to Dutch star Overmars
Sterling was a rare bright spark in England's dismal World Cup campaign in Brazil, and many have suggested he would be best used in a central role by Roy Hodgson.
That position is currently occupied by Rooney, whose performances have been the subject of criticism in some quarters.
Ahead of England's opening Euro 2016 qualifier in Switzerland on Monday, Rooney has compared the Liverpool man to former Netherlands international Marc Overmars, who enjoyed a stellar career at Ajax, Arsenal and Barcelona.
"I sat down with Raheem before the World Cup and showed him videos of Marc Overmars because he reminds me of him," said Rooney.
"I think he has the potential to be as good as Overmars. He's a young lad, but the potential he's shown is incredible.
"He's a fantastic player. You saw that last season, and with the start he has had to this season.
"He's quite an unusual player. He can play right across the front line, out wide. Although he's a small lad, he's really strong as well.
"He'll be a massive player for England for the next 10 to 15 years, and, unfortunately for Liverpool."