The 34-year-old left Everton back in 2004 and, over the course of 13 years, made his name as a Manchester United legend, helping them to 5 Premier League titles, an FA Cup, 3 League Cups and a Champions League title as well as becoming United’s all-time top scorer, scoring his 250th goal for them against Stoke City. Take a look at the 5 greatest moments of his career thus far.
His winner against Aston Villa in the 2010 League Cup Final. Despite having been involved in a number of crucial games for the Red Devils, this was Rooney’s only winning goal in a cup final. That he came on as a sub and made the telling contribution in the 74th minute made it all the sweeter – incidentally, he wouldn’t score again in the League Cup until 2015.
That Newcastle goal. United had just gone 1-0 down against the run of play, Rooney was expected to be pulled off shortly after. And then, he did something stunning. An unforgettable goal, still talked about some 15 years later. As Andy Gray put it “Take a bow, son.”
16 years old. One of his first competitive games in Everton’s first team. Facing Champions Arsenal, who were unbeaten in 30 games. None of that mattered to young Wayne. Gravesen lofted a ball in his direction, Rooney took it out the air, turned, and from 25 yards out, bent a stunning strike past a helpless David Seaman. “Remember this name – Wayne Rooney.” said Clive Tyldesley. We did.
Just missing out on top spot is that goal against Manchester City. A shinner, it may have been, but as Rooney points out himself “it’s a harder skill to score off your shin than your foot!”. Rooney has called it his most important goal and it helped United on to another Premier League as well as a win against their most fierce rivals. Not only that, but it was also voted as the best goal the Premier League has ever seen at the Premier League 20 Seasons Awards.
What better way to announce yourself to the world. 18 years old, just signed for a massive fee, your first team debut for Manchester United, in the Champions League and in front of over 67,000 people. Freeze? No, you score a hat-trick in less than an hour. Not just any hat-trick either. A left foot smash into the roof of the net, a right footed drill into the bottom corner and a stunning free-kick from the edge of the box. If you could come up with the dream way to announce yourself to world football – it wouldn’t be this good.