Rooney unites with first love af­ter 13 years with Man U

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS -

Wayne Rooney re­joined his boy­hood club Ever­ton on Sun­day af­ter 13 years at Manch­ester United.

The 31-year-old Rooney is leav­ing English soc­cer’s big­gest club as its record scorer, hav­ing won ev­ery ma­jor tro­phy.

The most rec­og­nized and scru­ti­nized English soc­cer player, Rooney has been get­ting ac­cus­tomed to a re­duced sta­tus af­ter los­ing his start­ing place in the United team and drop­ping out of the na­tional team squad.

A re­turn to Ever­ton, where he made his name as a dy­namic teenager, sig­nals a fresh start.

“It is some time since I said that the only Pre­mier League club I would play for other than Manch­ester United was Ever­ton, so I am de­lighted that the move has hap­pened,” Rooney said af­ter sign­ing a two-year con­tract.

“Thir­teen years ago I went to United with the in­ten­tion of win­ning tro­phies and I have been for­tu­nate to be a part of one of the most suc­cess­ful pe­ri­ods in the club’s his­tory.”

The striker will now be a cen­tral fig­ure once again in a team that is look­ing to break the Pre­mier League’s elite un­der coach Ron­ald Koe­man.

“I have come back to Ever­ton be­cause I be­lieve Ron­ald Koe­man is build­ing a team that can win some­thing,” Rooney said, “and I look for­ward to play­ing my part in mak­ing that a re­al­ity for the club I have sup­ported since a boy.”

Ever­ton is on the verge of sell­ing Romelu Lukaku to United but has signed goal­keeper Jor­dan Pick­ford, cen­tre back Michael Keane, mid­fielder Davy Klaassen and striker San­dro Ramirez this off-sea­son.

Ever­ton’s ma­jor­ity share­holder since Fe­bru­ary 2016, Ira­nian-Bri­tish busi­ness­man Farhad Moshiri, wants to take the team higher than last sea­son’s sixth place.

“Wayne has shown me that am­bi­tion that we need and that win­ning men­tal­ity — he knows how to win ti­tles and I’m re­ally happy he’s de­cided to come home,” Koe­man said.

“He loves Ever­ton and he was des­per­ate to come back. He is still only 31 and I don’t have any doubts about his qual­i­ties. It’s fan­tas­tic he’s here.”

Rooney scored a record 253 goals for United af­ter mov­ing from Ever­ton for 27 mil­lion pounds as an 18-year-old in 2004, win­ning the Pre­mier League ti­tle five times, the FA Cup once, the League Cup three times, the Cham­pi­ons League once and the Europa League last sea­son. He is also Eng­land’s record scorer with 53 goals.

He was a pe­riph­eral fig­ure at United last sea­son in Jose Mourinho’s first year in charge, start­ing only 15 league games, and wasn’t in­cluded in the na­tional team’s most re­cent squad.

“He has been a model pro­fes­sional through­out his time at the club and will re­main in the his­tory books for many years to come,” Mourinho said.

“It is never easy to see a great player play­ing less foot­ball than he would like and I could not stand in his way when he asked to go back to Ever­ton. His ex­pe­ri­ence, fo­cus and de­ter­mi­na­tion will be missed and I wish him well for the fu­ture.”

Rooney will go down as one of the great­est United play­ers of the modern era, although many will ar­gue he hasn’t quite reached the heights ex­pected of him when he was ar­guably at the top of his game in the 2009-10 sea­son, at that time play­ing at a level com­pa­ra­ble to Cris­tiano Ron­aldo and Lionel Messi.

His stint at United was tar­nished for some when Rooney sought to leave the club first in 2010 and again at the end of the 201213 sea­son, clash­ing with then-man­ager Alex Fer­gu­son both times.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

Wayne Rooney is re­turn­ing to Ever­ton, where he made his name as a dy­namic teenager.

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