Strug­gling striker leaves United to sign with club that gave him his start

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

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.

AP FILE

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