The word destiny means something which is bound to happen no matter how many obstacles, barriers come in the path. Wayne Rooney, a Scouser (Liverpool born) by birth; who’d have thought that he’ll come across the M62 and become the all-time top scorer of a club that is hated by the entire Merseyside county? But as said earlier dread it, run from it destiny still arrives. Two cities in the Northwest of the country that has contrast in literally everything is its lifestyle, be it their accent in speaking the language and of course in football. Liverpool and Manchester have an eternal rivalry on the football pitch for ages not only between their clubs but also between the two cities itself. But Rooney’s destiny was to become a Manchester United legend and he like every other human being couldn’t avoid his final destination. We’ll look back on the journey of a scouser from the blue part of Merseyside to the red part of Manchester and becoming a manc himself.
Childhood and Introduction to The Beautiful Game
Wayne Rooney was born in the Liverpool town of Croxteth to Jeanette Marie (née Morrey) and Thomas Wayne Rooney on 24th October 1985. The Liverpool boy of Irish descent grew up supporting Everton and Brazilian sensation Ronaldo Lima as his idol. Rooney began playing for Liverpool Schoolboys as early as the age of 8 and scored 72 goals in one season, a record which stood until May 2010. After one year, Rooney played for Copplehouse boys‘ club in the local Walton and Kirkdale junior league and scored 99 goals in his final season before being spotted by Everton scout Bob Pendleton.
Wayne Rooney joined Everton at age nine and was the Everton mascot for the Merseyside derby against Liverpool as an 11-year-old. In the 1995–96 season, he scored 114 goals in 29 games for Everton‘s under-10s and 11s and by the age of 15, he was already playing for the under-19s. He scored eight goals in eight games during Everton’s run to the FA Youth Cup Final in 2002. This included one goal in the final defeat against Aston Villa and, upon scoring, he revealed a T-shirt that read, “Once a Blue, always a Blue.” It was his dream after all to represent his boyhood club.
Shining at Everton
Rooney’s impressive run of form made it impossible to keep him outside the senior squad of the Toffees. So it was imminent that he’d be included in Everton’s first-team squad for their training camp in Austria in the summer of 2002 and of course, he scored his first senior goal in a 3–1 friendly victory over SC Weiz on 15 July to justify his inclusion. Rooney made his Premier League debut on 17 August in a 2–2 home draw against Tottenham Hotspur, starting the match and assisting the first goal by Mark Pembridge. He became the second youngest first-team player in Everton history behind Joe Royle. In that match, he was booed by the Spurs fans who shouted “Who are ya?” whenever he touched the ball. His first competitive senior goals came on 2 October when he scored twice in a 3–0 away win over Wrexham in the second round of the League Cup.
These goals meant that Rooney was Everton’s youngest-ever goalscorer at the time. On 19 October, five days before his 17th birthday, Rooney scored THAT last-minute long ranger winning goal against Arsenal which gave him worldwide exposure as the goal ended Arsenal‘s 30-match unbeaten run under Arsene Wenger and also made Rooney the youngest goalscorer in Premier League history, a record that has since been surpassed twice, by James Milner and James Vaughan. In December, Rooney was named 2002’s BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year. Six days after claiming the award he scored the winning goal against Blackburn Rovers in a 2–1 home win. He was sent off for the first time in his career on Boxing Day in a 1–1 away draw against Birmingham City for a late challenge on Steve Vickers.
In January 2003, Wayne Rooney signed his first professional contract, which made him one of world football’s highest-paid teenagers at that time. After 8 long years with the club, Rooney bid farewell to the Everton fans at the end of the 2003-04 season scoring 9 goals in 40 appearances in all competitions. Rooney also received the FIFA Golden Boy award in 2004 for his excellence on the pitch.
In the summer of 2004, English football saw a tug of war for teenage sensation Wayne Rooney between the top clubs when the man himself submitted a transfer request to the Everton hierarchy. But it was Sir Alex’s Manchester United at the end who got the cherry and secured the signing of Rooney on the deadline day. The deal was reached for a whooping £25.6 million and it was the highest amount of transfer fee paid for a teenager ever at that time. Rooney was still only 18 when he left Everton.
The Golden Boy of Manchester
There were plenty of eyebrows raised.United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson on his decision to sign a teenager for multi-million pounds.
Wayne Rooney was given the famous number 8 shirt upon his arrival at Old Trafford a squad number that was previously worn by legends like Nicky Butt, Norman Whiteside, and Denis Law himself. So the expectations were high for the teenager. And he fulfilled that expectation in his very first outing for the Reds on 28 September in a 6–2 home win over Fenerbahçe in the UEFA Champions League, scoring a hat-trick and laying on an assist. These goals made Rooney the youngest player to score a hat-trick in the Champions League aged 18 years 335 days. That feat was applauded by United legends who hailed him to be the ‘Torch Bearer’ for United in a long time to come.
Rooney can do the lot. Eventually he’ll have all the United records.Denis Law, part of United’s holy trinity on Wayne Rooney in 2004
His first season with Manchester United, however, ended without winning a trophy as they could only manage a third-place finish in the league and failed to progress to the last eight of the Champions League. United had more success in the cup competitions but was edged out of the League Cup in the semi-finals by a Chelsea side who also won the Premier League title that season under Jose Mourinho and a goalless draw with Arsenal in the FA Cup final was followed by a penalty shoot-out defeat. Wayne Rooney was United’s top league scorer that season with 11 goals and was deservedly credited with the PFA Young Player of the Year award.
Wayne Rooney’s first trophy with United came in the 2005–06 League Cup and he was also named man of the match after scoring twice in the final as United won 4–0 against Wigan Athletic. United finished the season as Premier League runners up, with their title hopes ended in late April when they lost 3–0 away to eventual champions Chelsea. Rooney sustained a broken metatarsal in that game after a tackle from Paulo Ferreira. That horrible injury created fear amongst the English fans who thought that the country’s hottest property could miss the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
Rooney scored a total of 16 goals in 26 Premier League games in the 2005–06 season. The FIFA World Cup tussle with fellow teammate Cristiano Ronaldo created confusion about whether the two youngmen could perform together keeping that memory aside but to everyone’s surprise, the famous Rooney-Ronaldo partnership started to form at Old Trafford as the duo combined together creating numerous goals for the Red Devils. Rooney eventually signed a two-year contract extension that tied him to United until 2012. In April 2007, Wayne Rooney scored and provided an assist for Chris Eagles in a crucial 4–2 league win for Manchester United at his former club Everton, a game that also became notable for Rooney’s response to fans that once cheered him.
In the same month, Wayne Rooney scored two goals in an 8–3 aggregate Champions League quarter-final win over Roma and two more in the same competition at the end of April, in a 3–2 semi-final first leg victory over Milan. Rooney bagged his first Premier League trophy in the 2006-07 season. In June 2007, Rooney was given squad number 10, last worn by Ruud van Nistelrooy. Wayne Rooney has shown his love for that number in public. The addition of Carlos Tevez from West Ham changed the famous Rooney-Ronaldo duo to an electric trio of Rooney-Tevez-Ronaldo. The front three have 79 goals between them in the 2007-08 season with Rooney having 18 of them despite missing ten games that season through injuries.
United clinched the double of Premier League and the Champions League. Rooney scored twice in the 5–3 semi-final victory over Japanese club Gamba Osaka in the FIFA Club World Cup and after scoring the winning goal as United beat LDU Quito 1–0 in the final in Yokohama was awarded the Golden Ball as the best player in the tournament.
On 25 April 2009, Wayne Rooney scored his final league goals of the season against Tottenham; United scored five goals in the second half to come from 2–0 down to win 5–2; Rooney scored two goals, set up two, and provided the assist that led to the penalty for United’s first goal. On 27 May, Rooney played against Barcelona in the 2009 Champions League Final in Rome, with United losing 2–0. Rooney ended the season with 20 goals in all competitions. Once again, he managed 12 goals in the league. Wayne Rooney won the hat trick of Premier League titles with United that season. 2009-10 is regarded as the best season of his career for individual brilliance. On 16 February 2010, Rooney hit his first European goals of the season, scoring two headers in the 3–2 away win against Milan in Manchester United’s first-ever win against them at the San Siro. On 28 February 2010, he scored another header against Aston Villa (his fifth consecutive headed goal) which resulted in Manchester United winning the League Cup final 2–1. In the second leg of United’s European tie against Milan, Rooney scored a brace in a resounding 4–0 home victory, taking his tally of goals that season to 30. He scored 34 goals in 44 games across all competitions for the Red Devils and was named the PFA Players’ Player of the Year in April 2010.
On 28 August 2010, Rooney scored his first goal of the season as he netted a penalty in a 3–0 home win over West Ham United. In October, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson stated at a press conference that Wayne Rooney wanted to quit the club. This came after a period of a dispute as to the extent of Rooney’s ankle injury, where Rooney had refuted Ferguson’s claim that the injury was the reason Rooney had been dropped to the bench. Rooney and his representatives released a statement regarding his decision to leave the club, insisting it was not down to money but ambition. Following this statement, Rooney made a dramatic U-turn and agreed to a new five-year contract at Manchester United until June 2015. Rooney made his return to the first team as a substitute against Wigan on 20 November.
Four days later, he returned to the starting line-up and scored a penalty in a 1–0 away win over Rangers in the Champions League. His first goal of the season from open play came on 1 January 2011 in a 2–1 away win over West Bromwich Albion. Then came the moment of the season as Wayne Rooney scored a sumptuous overhead bicycle kick in the 78th minute of the Manchester derby, which proved to be the winning goal in United’s 2–1 win over City. The sheer suddenness of the moment, the exultant quality to execute the finish made the goal even more special and it needed a diluvium of adjectives to describe the serenity of the goal. After the match, Rooney said it was the best goal of his career.
It was stunning. Unbelievable. We’ve had some fantastic goals here but in terms of execution… you’ll never see that.Sir Alex Ferguson on Rooney’s bicycle kick match-winner against Manchester City.
What a goal! In what a time! At what a place! What a player! Wayne Rooney, out of this world!!!Peter Drury describing the goal during the match commentary.
United secured a record 19th English top division title and Wayne Rooney collected his fourth Premier League title winner’s medal at the end of the season.
Again in the 2011-12 season, Rooney reached the zenith of his individual form as he scored 34 goals in 43 games across all competitions. United, however, missed the Premier League title on goal difference after a dramatic last-minute goal by Sergio Aguero for their cross-city rivals Manchester City. In the 2012-13 season, he formed another formidable partnership with Robin van Persie, the summer arrival from Arsenal. On 9th December 2012, he scored a brace at the Manchester derby to put The Reds in pole position to retain their title from their city counterparts. United got their hands on the Premier League trophy in April 2013 after a hat trick from Robin van Persie against Aston Villa, 2 of those 3 goals came from Wayne Rooney assists. On 12 May, Sir Alex Ferguson announced, after United’s 2–1 win against Swansea City, that Rooney had handed in his transfer request, a match in which Rooney also requested not to play.
The summer of 2013 saw a huge change in the fabric of the club when their Longest serving manager Sir Alex Ferguson retired from his duty and another Scott David Moyes took over who apparently was Rooney’s first manager at Everton. On 5 July 2013, Moyes announced that Wayne Rooney was not for sale, after speculation that Chelsea, Arsenal, Real Madrid, and Paris Saint-Germain were among the clubs looking to sign him. On 17 July 2013, Chelsea confirmed that they had made a bid for Rooney the previous day, thought to be in the region of £20 million, however, it had been rejected by Manchester United. He suffered a head gash in training on 31 August after a collision with Phil Jones which kept him out of the match against Liverpool. He scored his first goal of the season with a free-kick in a 2–0 win against Crystal Palace.
On 17 September, Wayne Rooney scored twice in a 4–2 win against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League, marking his 200th goal for United in the process. United had just been the shadow of their former self under Moyes and finished 7th in the Premier League that season but Rooney scored 19 goals for the club. After Moyes was sacked in 2013, Louis van Gaal took over the duty and remained in the job for the next two seasons and handed over the Captain’s armband to Rooney following the departure of Nemanja Vidic to Inter in 2014. Wayne Rooney lifted his first trophy as United captain when United beat Crystal Palace in the 2016 FA Cup Final.
The 2016-17 season was going to be his last season at the Manchester outfit when new manager Jose Mourinho was reluctant to include him in his long term plans. Rooney’s age and lack of fitness was the main issue. He played 39 games for United with a maximum of them coming as a substitute and scored 8 goals across all competitions. This was the first time that he couldn’t reach double figures in goals since signing for the club in 2004. But in the 16-17 season, he did achieve some unique feats as a Manchester United player and the most important of them was to surpass Sir Bobby Charlton as United’s highest ever scorer. He achieved the feat after scoring a last minuted free-kick against Stoke City. Wayne Rooney won his last trophy with United in May 2017 after their triumph in the UEFA Europa League.
Rooney bid an emotional farewell to the Red Devils in 2017 after 13 long years with the club and the top scorer in the history of Manchester United and of course won every trophy a player can aspire to win in his club career.
Conquering the MLS
Wayne Rooney returned to his boyhood club Everton in 2017 and played the 2017-18 season at the Goodison Park before moving off across the Atlantic to join USA Major League Soccer side DC United. After putting in positive performances for D.C. United, including a sensational last-ditch tackle and pass for the game-winning goal against Orlando on 12 August and helping them to a playoff spot for the first time in a while, he was named ‘MLS Player of the Month’ for the month of October 2018. His team made the 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs but were knocked out at home to the Columbus Crew SC in the first round, in which his attempt in the penalty shootout was saved by Zack Steffen. At the end of the 2018 MLS campaign, he was named as D.C. United’s MVP and golden boot winner, having scored 12 goals in 21 matches.
On 6 August 2019, with two years left on his contract with D.C. United, Rooney agreed on a deal to return to England as a player-coach with the EFL Championship side Derby County in January 2020. Rooney was instantly named captain and his debut came on 2 January as he started and assisted the first goal in a 2–1 win against Barnsley. He is still continuing as a player cum coach with The Rams.
After snubbing the opportunity to represent the Republic of Ireland, through his Irish paternal grandparents, Rooney expressed his desire to represent the Three Lions after describing himself as “English through and through”. Rooney became the youngest player to play for England when he earned his first cap in a friendly defeat against Australia at the Boleyn Ground on 12 February 2003 at 17 years and 111 days, coming on at half-time as manager Sven-Göran Eriksson fielded a different team in each half. On 6 September of that year, aged 17 years and 317 days, he became the youngest player to score for England, equalizing in a 2–1 away victory over Macedonia in a UEFA Euro 2004 qualifying match.
His first tournament action was at UEFA Euro 2004, in which he became the youngest scorer in competition history on 17 June 2004, when he scored twice in England’s second group match against Switzerland, which ended in a 3–0 victory. Rooney added two more goals in the competition in England’s final group match on 21 June, a 4–2 win over Croatia but subsequently suffered an injury in the quarter-final match against hosts Portugal on 24 June, and England was eliminated on penalties. After scoring four goals in four matches, Rooney was named in UEFA’s Team of the Tournament.
Rooney faced a run for fitness for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. England attempted to hasten his recovery with the use of an oxygen tent which allowed Rooney to enter a group match against Trinidad and Tobago and start the next match against Sweden. However, he never got back into game shape and went scoreless as England bowed out in the quarter-finals, again on penalty kicks. Controversy followed when Rooney was red-carded in the 62nd minute of the quarter-final for stamping on Portugal defender Ricardo Carvalho as both attempted to gain possession of the ball, he seemed to be pulled back by Carvalho, and then trod on his opponent’s groin as the Chelsea defender was on the floor trying to win the ball, an incident that occurred right in front of the Argentine referee Horacio Elizondo.
Rooney was given the England number 10 shirt by manager Fabio Capello ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. During the tournament, England drew 0–0 in their second group match against Algeria on 18 June, and the England players were booed off the pitch by their supporters; Rooney was at the center of controversy when he criticized the England fans for booing the team after the match and subsequently apologized for his actions. Rooney went scoreless throughout the tournament, and England were eliminated in the second round, following a 4–1 defeat to Germany on 27 June.
At the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Rooney started in England’s first group match against Italy, setting up Daniel Sturridge’s temporary equaliser, in a 2–1 loss. In England’s second 2014 World Cup group match against Uruguay at the Arena Corinthians, Rooney scored his first-ever goal at a World Cup finals with a 75th-minute equaliser in a 2–1 loss. England drew their final group match 0–0 against Costa Rica, and were eliminated from the World Cup, finishing last in their group; despite playing a part in both of England’s goals, Rooney was criticised by English pundits for his performance in the tournament. Following Steven Gerrard’s international retirement after the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Roy Hodgson named Rooney as England’s new captain. On 3 September 2014, in the first match of his captaincy, Rooney scored a penalty against Norway to give England a 1–0 friendly win. On 15 November 2014, Rooney won his 100th England cap against Slovenia in a Euro 2016 qualifying match, scoring a penalty to equalise in a 3–1 win. In his 106th England appearance, he equalled Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of 49 goals (also in 106 matches) on 5 September 2015 by scoring a penalty against San Marino. On 8 September 2015, Rooney broke Charlton’s England goalscoring record as he did for his club also, netting his 50th international goal from a penalty in a Euro 2016 qualifying match against Switzerland, at Wembley.
Wayne Rooney captained England for the first time in UEFA Euro 2016. On 27 June, he scored the opening goal in a 2–1 defeat to Iceland from a penalty in the Round of 16, which saw England eliminated from the tournament.
On 4 September 2016, Wayne Rooney earned his 116th appearance for England in 1–0 away win over Slovakia in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, making him the nation’s most-capped outfield player of all time, and England’s second-highest appearance maker behind Peter Shilton. On 4 November 2018, it was confirmed that Rooney would come out of his ‘temporary’ international retirement to play one final match for the England national football team against the United States at Wembley Stadium on 15 November. This was in order to promote The Wayne Rooney Foundation, a newly formed charity; consequently, the match was called the “Wayne Rooney Foundation International”. He came on in the 58th minute of England’s eventual 3–0 home win, ending his international career with 120 appearances.
Life Off The Pitch
Wayne Rooney met his wife, Coleen Rooney (née McLoughlin), while both were at secondary school and married her on 12 June 2008 after six years of dating. The couple has four sons: Kai Wayne (born 2 November 2009), Klay Anthony (born 21 May 2013), Kit Joseph (born 24 January 2016), and Cass Mac (born 15 February 2018). Wayne’s younger brother, John Rooney, is also a professional footballer who plays for Barrow. Rooney also supports Scottish football club Celtic. He had a strong interest in boxing and still practices in the ring in off time to eliminate stress.
We wish the living legend of World Football and one of the greatest players England has ever produced, Wayne Rooney a very happy birthday and best of luck for his future playing career and managerial career.
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