Back at Everton after 13 sensational years at Old Trafford, Wayne Rooney has confirmed that his international career is over, having made 119 international appearances – and scored a record 53 England goals. “One of my very few regrets is not to have been part of a successful England tournament side,” the 31-year-old said. UEFA.com finds plenty more things he can be proud of.
What they say
“He is, first of all, as a person, fantastic. I had the luck to get to know the person. And as a player, there are not enough words because he is the perfect player – everybody knows what he can do, what he did and what he has done.”
Zlatan Ibrahimović, former United team-mate
“He was so powerful I called him ‘the Pitbull’. He was a fantastic team player and he scored goals. He helped me a lot. I miss playing with him. The future nobody knows; maybe one day we will play together again.”
Cristiano Ronaldo, former United team-mate
“I always think great players can play in any era. Bobby Charlton would have been a great player today and Wayne Rooney would have been a great player back then.”
Sir Alex Ferguson, former United manager
“Some of the things he could do as a young boy … He was an old-fashioned street footballer and he could have played any position. He loved the game and he’s still the same. He’s not changed that much.”
David Moyes, former Everton and United manager
International: 119 appearances, 53 goals
UEFA club competition: 102 appearances, 39 goals
Domestic competition: 540 appearances, 233 goals
Claims to fame
• The prodigious nature of his talent had been apparent when he hit 114 goals in a 30-game season with Everton’s Under-10s, including an overhead kick in a 12-2 hammering of United.
• Rooney’s first league goal came on his ninth outing for Everton and was worth the wait – a 30-metre finish over Arsenal keeper David Seaman which (at the time) made the 16-year-old the Premier League’s youngest ever scorer.
• That strike – one of 17 Rooney bagged for his childhood heroes – arrived in the 90th minute of a 2-1 Everton win that ended champions Arsenal’s 30-match unbeaten run. Some introduction!
• Returned to Goodison Park in summer 2017 and made his 100th UEFA club competition appearance in Everton’s 1-0 win against Ružomberok in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round.
• Scored his 200th Premier League goal in a 1-1 draw at Manchester City on 21 August. He is second behind Alan Shearer (260) in the list of the division’s all-time top marksmen.
• On his United debut in 2004, following a €30m transfer to Old Trafford, Rooney became the youngest scorer of a UEFA Champions League hat-trick, claiming three goals and an assist in a 6-2 group stage shellacking of Fenerbahçe.
• Helped United win the UEFA Champions League in Moscow in 2008, when he played wide left against Chelsea and was substituted before the Reds’ penalty shoot-out triumph.
• When United’s No10 did score in a UEFA Champions League final, it was in a losing cause – the 2011 defeat by Barcelona.
• Won all three major domestic trophies with United: five Premier League titles, three League Cups and a solitary FA Cup, in 2015/16. United’s 2016/17 UEFA Europa League triumph meant the only major tournament he competed in without winning at United was the UEFA Super Cup.
• The teak-tough attacker was a scourge of Manchester City during his time at Old Trafford, establishing himself as the 11-goal record marksman in Manchester derbies – most memorably with an overhead winner past Joe Hart in February 2011.
• Left Old Trafford as United’s all-time top scorer with 253 goals, having passed Sir Bobby Charlton’s tally of 249 with a free-kick against Stoke City on 21 January 2017.
• First capped in February 2003, he took UEFA EURO 2004 by storm with two goals apiece in consecutive group games against Switzerland and Croatia. The 18-year-old thus became the (then) youngest scorer in a UEFA European Championship finals.
• A metatarsal injury in the quarter-final against hosts Portugal prevented more heroics, and the last-eight hurdle tripped up Rooney on two further occasions – the 2006 FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO 2012 – with international glory elusive.
• By now a senior dressing-room voice, Rooney was appointed England captain by Roy Hodgson after the 2014 World Cup and in succession to Steven Gerrard.
• The one-time boy wonder became the ninth England international to achieve a century of appearances when featuring against Slovenia in November 2014. Ten months later he became his country’s 50-goal all-time top scorer with a penalty versus Switzerland.
What you might not know
• Football’s loss was nearly boxing’s gain when, in his early teens, the future soccer star seriously considered pursuing a career in the ring. Rooney remembered: “I was doing boxing as well as football, but then I stopped going to boxing. Thankfully it was the right decision.”
• Everton youth coach Colin Harvey had to talk a 14-year-old Rooney out of early retirement during a period when he “had stopped enjoying football”. “He sat me down and made me fall back in love with football,” Rooney said.
• Eleven years after leaving, Rooney made his Everton comeback as a substitute in a benefit match for Duncan Ferguson, the former Blues centre-forward who was his boyhood idol. Everton repaid the favour by providing the opposition for Rooney’s testimonial in August 2016.
• The follicly challenged forward tackled male pattern baldness head on, undergoing hair transplants in 2011 and 2013. “I was going bald at 25, why not,” he tweeted unapologetically.
• According to Rooney, former United and England team-mate Paul Scholes is the best player he has ever played with – while Clarence Seedorf has been his most impressive opponent.
What he says
“[After scoring a hat-trick on his UEFA Champions League debut] It’s a great feeling to score goals and to score goals for this club. I’m pleased and I’m sure there’s plenty more to come.“
“If I was sat here at 25, 26 talking about playing centre midfield or deeper midfield I wouldn’t want to play there of course. But now I’m at a stage where that might be better suited to me. Certainly No10 might be better suited to me.”
“I love football. In football, you have highs and lows. I wake up every day and love what I am doing. I cannot imagine my life without football.”
“Football is made up of all kinds of conflict. In a dressing room, between players, between us and the manager, between us and loads of people who don’t seem to matter. It’s constant and harsh sometimes.”
“Leaving Manchester United was a tough call but I know I made the right decision in coming home to Everton. Now I want to focus all my energies on helping them be successful.”