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Forgotten football stars: Wayne Rooney

Newcastle United v Manchester United - Premier League
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Wayne Rooney is another player who left Europe last summer and is currently playing for DC United in the American MLS.

Forgotten may be a too strong word to describe Wayne Rooney, because no one forgets the all-time top goalscorer of Manchester United and the England National Team, but I don’t believe that you’ve watched him play football, since he left Everton last summer.

The striker was only 32 when he moved to the United States, as his form suffered a massive drop over the past few years and he just couldn’t cope with the Premier League’s physical intensity anymore.

And while some would say Wayne Rooney got wasted too early, we just want to remind you that he started out at Everton at 16 years old back in 2002.

Yes, Rooney was only 16 when he made his professional debut in a Premier League game against Tottenham in August 2002 and became the Everton youngest ever goalscorer two months later when he scored twice in a League Cup game against Wrexham.

His debut goal in the Premier League came on 19 October, five days before his 17th birthday – a stunning last-minute winner against Arsenal, which ended the Gunners’ unbeaten run of 30 consecutive games. The goal 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 2002, Rooney was named the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year, while he earned his first cap for England in February 2003, becoming the youngest player to play for the national team.

That was quite a cracking start of the career of a 16-year old boy who already played like a man and made 33 Premier League appearances in his debut season as a professional.

In the 2003-04 campaign, Rooney scored nine goals in 34 league appearances for Everton and got himself on the plane for Portugal – the host of the 2004 UEFA EURO. The 18-year old was exceptional at the European Championship. He finished the tournament as the second best goalscorer with four goals, one goal less than the Golden Boot winner, Milan Baros who scored five.

His performances had impressed Sir Alex Ferguson and the Manchester United manager agreed to pay £25.6 million to Everton for his services, making Rooney the most expensive teenager back then.

The striker made his Manchester United debut on 28 September 2004 in a Champions League game against Fenerbahce at Old Trafford. Did he score a goal on his United debut? No, he scored three. Rooney won the Golden Boy award in December 2004, but failed to win a major trophy in his first season at Old Trafford.

However, Sir Alex knew what kind of talent his Manchester United team possessed at the time and just patiently waited for Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo to build their phenomenal partnership, which eventually won three successive Premier League crowns between 2007 and 2009, as well as the 2008 Champions League for the Red Devils.

Ronaldo left United in 2009, but Rooney stepped up and became the Red Devils’ main striker, netting 34 goals across all competitions in the 2009-10 season.

Of course, Wayne’s role on the ground was a bit more defensive when the Portuguese played at Old Trafford, as he was the one to chase in defense and do the hard work – something that Manchester Untied’s fans loved the most about Wayne Rooney.

The striker had a bit of a controversial character, but he loved winning, while his never-give-up mentality created a tireless beast on the football grounds out of him, who will fight for every ball and just won’t stop until he gets the result he wants. And that’s why Wayne Rooney paid the price in the late stage of his career, and as we said at the top of this article, he got wasted earlier than expected.

Rooney scored that overhead goal against Manchester City in 2011, as Sir Alex Ferguson finally knocked Liverpool off their perch, guiding United to the record-breaking 19th Premier League title. The Red Devils also reached another Champions League final that season, but Wayne scored United’s only goal in a 3-1 defeat against Barcelona at Wembley.

The English striker won his fifth league title in 2013 – the last season of Ferguson in charge at Old Trafford. He also won the FA Cup in 2016 with Louis van Gaal, and the EFL Cup and the UEFA Europa League with Mourinho in 2017 and finally left United at the end of the 2016-17 season, returning to his boyhood club Everton.

Wayne spent the 2017-18 campaign at Everton, netting 10 Premier League goals, including a hat-trick against West Ham United. On 28 June 2018, Rooney left England for the first time in his career, joining MLS side DC United.

He is enjoying himself in the American League, having scored 20 goals in 35 appearances. Only a month ago, Wayne Rooney scored his 300th career goal in a 2-1 defeat to Houston Dynamo. The striker will take part of the MLS all-star game, alongside big football stars like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luis Nani, and Carlos Vela.