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Manchester United Idols: Wayne Rooney – a winner, a leader and a club legend

On the 31 August 2004, Manchester United signed 18-year-old Wayne Rooney from Everton in a deal worth £27 million. Throughout the month, Everton received an offer of £20 million from Newcastle United after Rooney rejected a new contract worth £50,000 per week, also handing in a transfer request two leave Goodison Park. United had paid the highest transfer fee at the time for a player under the age of 20. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson knew the type of player Rooney could become after his exploits with Everton since emerging as a 16-year-old, scoring 17 goals in 77 appearances before leaving for United.

Rooney had become now of the most sought-after players in Europe following his two seasons at Everton and a starring role for England at Euro 2004, in which he scored four goals, matching new United teammate Ruud van Nistelrooy’s efforts for the Netherlands. Perhaps Ferguson knew what Rooney could achieve at United if he continued to work hard and develop, which was never really a second thought. The legend would spend 13 seasons at United and win all the major honours at the club, helping United to reach the pinnacle of European football once again under the reign of Ferguson, who did so for the second time in his career.

Rooney made a total of 559 appearances for United, scoring 253 goals and 146 assists, which meant he offered a goal every 2.21 matches and a goal contribution every 1.40 matches. Rooney had a hand in 399 goals for United, which is a great figure for a player that really played in quote a few roles at the club from the main striking position, second striker, attacking midfield, in the wide areas and even in defensive midfield towards the end of his United career. Rooney offered everything he has for much of his United career, keeping United ticking and earning the plaudits. Rooney also played 12 matches for England, scoring 53 goals.

In his first season at United, Rooney showed what he could become. On his debut for the club, against Fenerbahce in the UEFA Champions League, Rooney scored his first hat-trick for the club as United beat the Turkish club 6-2, scoring 17 goals and six assists in 43 appearances. Rooney averaged 19.46 goals for the club each season and regularly hit around the 20 goal mark each season. During two seasons (2009/10 and 2011/12) he scored 34 goals for the club. In his final season at the club (2016/17) he scored just eight goals for the club. In total, he scored eight hat-tricks for United, scoring four goals in one match, which showed his ability.

His hat-trick against Fenerbahce will be special as it was his first at United, on his debut and playing in the Champions League. He also scored hat-tricks against Bolton Wanderers (twice), and Portsmouth in the Premier League. Two other special ones will be prevalent though; the one against West Ham United on the 2 April 2011 and the one against Arsenal on the 28 August 2011 as United beat the North London club 8-2. Rooney was known for driving the mentality of the club forward, always wanting to win and win trophies. In the summer of 2010, a certain transfer request from Rooney could have chanced everything.

Rooney was being linked to Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester City. He said it was never an option to sign for City and he would have chose Barcelona over Real Madrid, but the Madrid club were the likely destination. Of course, he never left United, signed a new number contract at the club and continued his career. As Sir Alex Ferguson retired at the end fo the 2012/13 season, he confirmed that Rooney had handed in a transfer request once again, with David Moyes, Rooney’s former manager at Everton solving that problem. Rooney was sold to Everton in the summer of 2017 just after Jose Mourinho’s first season at the club.

At United, Rooney was chasing the goalscoring record set by the legendary Sir Bobby Charlton, who scored 249 goals for United in 758 appearances. Rooney broke that record by scoring his 250th goal in January 2017, scoring three more goals for the club before leaving United. Rooney also broke Charlton’s record for England too, having scored 49 goals in 106 appearances, Rooney scored 53 goals in 120 appearances, breaking the record in 2015. Rooney was a placer that craved success and guided United to many trophies with his teammates. His goals were something that helped United massively along the way plus his desire to win.

Rooney won five Premier League titles at United, one FA Cup, three League Cups, four FA Community Shields, one UEFA Champions League (playing in three finals), one UEFA Europa League and one FIFA Club World Cup. Rooney captained United, taking over from Nemanja Vidic in 2014 and handing the captaincy over to Michael Carrick in 2017. Since Rooney’s departure, Antonio Valencia (now left), Ashley Young (now left) and Harry Maguire have also captained the Old Trafford club. Rooney may be a distant memory for United now, a player that has played a part in the clubs history but he will always be remembered.

After United, Rooney went back to boyhood club Everton, staying at the club for one season before heading to the MLS in the United States of America, playing the DC United and scoring 25 goals and 14 assists in 52 appearances. Rooney then returned to England, signing for Championship club Derby County in 2019, eligible to play for the club from the 2019/20 season. He is currently the interim manager of the club. The name Rooney might be heard against at United as the club signed 11-year-old Kai Rooney last month, taking him into the clubs academy. He will be sure to keep the family name alive at the club, providing he makes it there.

Written by John Walker

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