England’s all-time leading goalscorer and 5-time Premier League winner Wayne Rooney has officially hung up his boots at the age of 35.
Having burst onto the scene as a teenager in 2002, Rooney enjoyed an incredible career at both club and international level and is revered the world over.
Like many England players from his generation, there is always a feeling of what might have been from the ‘Golden Generation’ of the mid 2000’s but like his once national team mates Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, Rooney has made an instant transition into club management.
His retirement coincides with his announcement as Head Coach at Championship side Derby County and Rooney will be desperate to prove himself as a manager and pull the Rams away from relegation trouble.
Five days before his 17th birthday, Rooney instantly etched his name into English football folklore with his stunning volley against then Premier League champions Arsenal, to win the game for his boyhood club Everton. In doing so, he became the Premier League’s youngest ever goal scorer (a record that has subsequently been broken) but Rooney’s career took off from that very moment.
Further goals (and red cards) followed for Rooney, who became the most expensive teenager in the history of footballwhen he moved to Manchester United in the summer of 2004 at the age of just 18. Under Sir Alex Ferguson it was a match made in heaven as Rooney won every accolade available at club level–both domestically and internationally–making him one of the most decorated players in English football history.
Mixed international fortunes
For all Rooney’s success at club level, he and many of his England colleagues couldn’t quite deliver at international level. His record of 53 goals in 120 appearances for England surpasses greats of the game such as Gary Lineker and Bobby Charlton but the lack of major honours always hangs over Rooney and many of his team mates.
His emergence on the world stage at Euro 2004 elevated Rooney to superstar status and his injury in the latter stages of that tournament contributed to England being eliminated by Portugal in the last 8. Further disappointments followed for England and Rooney, ranging from his sending off at the 2006 World Cup through to his foul mouth tirade at the TV cameras at the 2010 World Cup as England never managed to progress beyond the last 8 with Rooney in the squad at any major tournament.
Ready made manager?
After leaving the Premier League in 2018, Rooney went on to play for DC United in the MLS–scoring 25 goals in 2 seasons and his move back to England with Derby County in late 2019 seemed the perfect fit. Under the stewardship of Dutch great Phillip Cocu, Rooney operated in a midfield role on the pitch and became part of the coaching set up at Pride Park.
Results at Derby have been poor this season, which forced the hand of the owners who sacked Cocu in November and placed Rooney in interim charge. Results have shown a steady improvement with Rooney at the helm and at the age of 35, he now seems ready to impart his wisdom and experience on Derby’s young squad as they look to pull out of relegation trouble in 2021.