Waddle told The Sun: “He’s a unsung hero. He’s a player who gives 100 per cent and you can never fault his effort.
“Like Ashley Cole on Saturday he got a lot of stick from the fans himself years ago when he gave away a free-kick against France and Zidane scored.
“He got tagged with that which seemed to upset his confidence for a long period.
“When he left Liverpool and went to Birmingham it seemed like he was a spent force.
“But all credit to him he never gave up. A lot of players would have thought their England days were over or thrown their toys out of the pram but he just got his head down and worked hard to get back.
“Since Steve Bruce has been at Wigan he has got better and better. His fitness level is good and he has got to the age where he knows what his game is and can go out there and perform.
“He works his socks off, he’s honest and holds the ball up. He still needs to have more belief in front of the goal at international level, especially as he gets into the right positions and was unlucky at Wembley.
“But whoever plays up front with him seems to love being alongside him because he is more mobile than Peter Crouch and links play better.”