Wayne Rooney announced last week that he would be retiring from professional football at the age of 35-years-old to concentrate on his first managerial job as Derby County manager.
Rooney returned to England joining the Rams’ in January 2020 as a player-coach under the guidance of Dutch legend Phillip Cocu, the former Derby manager. Rooney’s influence at Pride Park was instant with performances and results picking up instantly with the emergence of younger players such as Max Bird, Jason Knight and Louie Sibley impressing. Rooney impressed scoring six goals in twenty four appearances last season, as Derby finished the season in 10th position despite a poor start to the season.
Cocu left by mutual consent on the 25th November with Derby County sitting bottom off the Championship. Wayne Rooney and Liam Rosenior took over first-team duties whilst the club decided on the next managerial appointment. Fast forward to the 15th of January when Rooney retired from professional football after being appointed permanent manager of Derby County.
Wayne Rooney announced himself to the football world with that famous goal against Arsene Wenger’s unbelievable Arsenal side at Goodison Park in October 2002, five days before his 17th birthday. Rooney’s fantastic strike against the Gunners ended their 30-match unbeaten run making Rooney the youngest goal scorer in Premier League history. His meteoric rise continued just four months after bursting onto the scene for the Toffees with his wonder strike against Arsenal. Rooney made his England debut becoming the youngest ever debutant aged 17 years and 111 days. Manchester United paid Everton £30 million in August 2004 as Sir Alex Ferguson identified Rooney as the man to build his next great team with the Red Devils going through a barren spell due to Arsenal’s dominance.
“The White Pele” enjoyed an illustrious career in Manchester winning twelve major trophies including five Premier League titles, one F.A Cup, three League Cups, one Champions League and one Europa League during his thirteen year spell at the club. Rooney overtook Manchester United legend Bobby Charlton as all-time leading goal scorer with 253 goals in 559 appearances. He broke another Bobby Charlton record becoming England’s all-time goal scorer with 53 goals in 120 appearances for the Three Lions. Wayne Rooney will be remembered as one the greatest players of his generation after hanging up his boots at the age of 35 to pursue a career in management.
Below, we are going to look at some quotes from some of the biggest names in world football on Wayne Rooney throughout his incredible career. Rooney was highly regarded as one of the best players in Europe throughout his playing career earning plaudits for his selfless performances, goal scoring ability and trophy collection.
Cristiano Ronaldo spent five years at Old Trafford with Wayne Rooney as they both developed into world-class footballers under the guidance of the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson. The deadly duo terrorised defences in England and Europe winning three consecutive Premier League titles and the 2008 Champions League together before Ronaldo departed for Spain.
Cristiano Ronaldo (quote via BBC documentary on Rooney, cited by The42.ie): “I miss playing with Rooney. He was the kid of England, everyone loved him. He was so powerful I was calling him ‘Pitbull’. The power of Wayne Rooney is his mentality and strength and he never stops. He’s a fantastic team player and he scores. He’s a fantastic boy and he helped me a lot when he came to join us in Manchester”.
Perhaps the greatest footballer to ever live, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, paid tribute to Wayne Rooney.
Messi faced Rooney numerous times throughout his illustrious career, most famously in the 2009 Champions League final at the Stadio Olimpico which was won 2-0 by Barcelona. Messi ran the show in a dominant display for the Catalan side scoring in the 70th minute to make it 2-0 to seal his side another Champions League triumph.
Lionel Messi (via talkSPORT): “There has always been a great deal of respect between myself and Wayne Rooney. For me he is the great English player of the generation. What he is capable of doing on the field is very special, and he is one the few players that would improve any squad in European Football.”
Rooney announced himself to the footballing world with a wonder strike against Arsene Wenger’s unbeaten Arsenal team. Rooney’s strike, minutes from time, clinched the game 2-1 for the Toffees ending the Gunners’ 30-game unbeaten record in the process. Arsenal legend and World Cup-winner Thierry Henry shared the pitch with Rooney on many occasions as Manchester United and the Gunners dominated English football throughout the 00s.
Thierry Henry (via talkSPORT): “To play well for six months or a season in football is nothing. To do so for over a decade like Wayne Rooney is extraordinary. I know what it takes, and it isn’t easy. Trust me, people talk about him outside of this country in Spain and France he is appreciated as a top, top player.”
Swedish legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic signed for Manchester United in the summer of 2016 and spent one season playing alongside Wayne Rooney. They enjoyed a successful first season at Old Trafford scoring a combined 36 goals together in all competitions as the Red Devils won the EFL Cup and the Europa League under the guidance of Jose Mourinho. Rooney decided to move back to his boyhood club Everton upon the completion of the 2016/17 season whilst Ibrahimovic spent his second season recovering from a serious knee injury.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (via Yahoo): “I think he’s had a fantastic career. It’s not easy to be in top clubs for so many years. Players come and go, top players are coming and going but Rooney is still staying. He has performed at the top every year. I think he is the perfect example for young players to look at and take after. He’s been playing such a long time for a top club and giving results year after year. Not everybody can succeed with that but he is one of them. I’m very happy I’m in his team and will do my best to help him win.”
The greatest Manchester United player of all time, Sir Bobby Charlton, whose goal scoring record for club and country was beaten by Wayne Rooney paid tribute to his achievements.
Sir Bobby Charlton (via ESPN): “He is a true great for club and country, and it is fitting that he is now the highest goal scorer for both United and England. It has been great to watch him every week since his arrival at Old Trafford in 2004; he set the tone with a wonderful hat-trick on his debut and he has thrilled us all in the years since, going on to enjoy a hugely successful career. Now he’s the man to beat and I can’t see anybody doing that for a long, long time to come.”
All the best with your retirement, Wazza!