Struggling striker leaves United to sign with club that gave him his start
LONDON — England and Manchester United all-time leading scorer Wayne Rooney declared himself “ecstatic” on Sunday after completing a move back to Everton, the club where he first starred as a teenager.
The 31-year-old — who became a peripheral figure under Jose Mourinho last season — signed a two-year contract on a free transfer, according to the BBC, bringing the curtain down on 13 trophyladen years at Old Trafford.
Rooney — whose move came the day after United announced it had agreed to terms with Everton over buying striker Romelu Lukaku — hopes the switch revives his international career, which also stalled last season.
“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,” he said in a statement to the Press Association.
“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.
“I have come back to Everton because I believe (Everton manager) Ronald Koeman is building a team that can win something.
“I look forward to playing my part in making that a reality for the club I have supported since I was a boy,.”
Rooney was United’s lead-
I have come back to Everton because I believe (Everton manager) Ronald Koeman is building a team that can win something.” Wayne Rooney
ing scorer five times and on another occasion shared the honor with Cristiano Ronaldo.
Rooney said once he met with Koeman he knew there would be no other destination for his talent.
“I saw it in his eyes that he wanted me to be part of his team,” said the striker.
Koeman said in Rooney — who in his time at United won five Premier League titles and a Champions League — he was buying a player with a proven winner’s mentality.
“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,” said Koeman.
“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.”
‘Most magical moments’
Mourinho said he admired Rooney but understood both his desire for playing more soccer and to return to the club that nurtured his talent.
“It is never easy to see a great player playing less foot- ball than he would like and I could not stand in his way when he asked to go back to Everton,” said Mourinho.
United vice-chairman Ed Woodward paid a moving valedictory tribute to Rooney.
“Wayne has been a fantastic servant to United since the moment he signed for us as a prodigiously talented, explosive teenager some 13 seasons ago,” said Woodward.
“Who can forget his storybook debut hat-trick against Fenerbahce, the spectacular overhead kick against (Manchester) City and the countless match-winning performances in his time here?
“But after much discussion, the club has decided to accept his request to rejoin his boyhood team.
“He goes having created some of the most magical moments in some of the most successful years in the club’s history.”
Rooney, who had at one point been linked with a move to China before interest cooled, largely had a season to forget last year.
He started just 15 Premier League matches last season— and came on in another 10 — and was a non-used substitute in the League Cup win over Southampton.
He was sent on in the 90th minute of the 2-0 victory over Ajax in the Europa League final.
Rooney first burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old at Everton and went on to score 17 goals in 77 appearances for the Toffees, sparking then United manager Alex Ferguson’s interest.
Ferguson managed to persuade the board to splash out $35 million to sign him, and the club never regretted its investment.