Connect in the back of the net

Legendary Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney has officially left Old Trafford after an illustrious 13-year career, joining boyhood club Everton on a free transfer.

The striker was yesterday confirmed as an Everton player, putting pen to paper on a two-year deal, embarking on his second spell with the Toffees.

 

Successful and record-breaking

Rooney was signed by United from Everton in 2004, joining for a fee of £27m, which by today’s standards can be seen as a bargain given the success he enjoyed throughout his time with the red side of Manchester.

Since his move to the Red Devils, Rooney continued to grow from strength to strength, winning five league titles, an FA Cup, three League Cups, the Champions League, the Europa League and a Club World Cup.

Throughout his United career, the striker scored a remarkable 253 goals in 559 appearances, overtaking Bobby Charlton’s long-standing record of 249.

 

Harsh criticism

In spite of reaching a record goalscoring milestone however, Rooney faced a heavy amount of criticism in recent times, perhaps rather harshly, with many fans calling for him to leave the club.

The United striker looked increasingly likely to call time on his career at the Theatre of Dreams at the end of the 2016-17 season after being phased out of the first team by Jose Mourinho.

England international Rooney had seen attempts to leave quashed over the years, having previously expressing his desire to leave United twice in his career at the Theatre of Dreams, both times leading to an improved contract offer.

Many United fans saw this as a lack of respect for his club, and it took some time for him to regain their trust, despite the huge contributions he had made to the club in terms of the success they had enjoyed, particularly throughout the reign of the now retired Sir Alex Ferguson.

 

His end was nigh

The former Everton forward had been consistently linked with a move away from United, having seen first-team opportunities limited under United manager Jose Mourinho, despite being made the club’s captain in 2014.

Towards the end of his Old Trafford career, Rooney was used in a deeper role in midfield as opposed to playing as a striker, and began to see his days as a regular goalscorer numbered.

He was no longer a guaranteed starter having fallen down the pecking order, in particular since the appointment of Jose Mourinho, resigned to a spot the bench for much of the season.

 

Back at the place where it all started

At the ripe age of 31, Rooney took the decision to rejoin the club where he began his professional football career, in search of regular first-team football. 

Linked with several moves including in China and the USA, the United forward stated his desire to once again play for the team where he began to make a name for himself, catching the eye of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Rooney signed a two-year deal at Goodison Park, taking a 50% pay-cut in order to join his former club, with the forward’s wage demands in the region of £300,000 per week at Man Utd.

He has been given the coveted number 10 shirt, recently vacated by Belgium international Romelu Lukaku, who will be moving in the opposite direction. A move to Old Trafford is expected to be completed within the next few days after both clubs agreed to a fee of £75m for the towering striker.

Everton were said to be the only club Rooney was willing to join if he were to stay in the Premier League, with the striker stating in a recent interview with BBC Sport: “It was a no-brainer for me and the only place I was going to go.”

 

Gratitude – a character that will be sorely missed

United recently posted a thank you message for Rooney on their official website, expressing their gratitude for a player that had played a fundamental role in the success that was enjoyed throughout his 13-year spell with the club.

In response, the England international showed his admiration for United, including managers, coaches, players and fans and the memories they had provided him with, along with a message expressing his excitement at joining his new team, embarking on a new chapter of a hugely successful career.

Wayne Rooney will be a character that will be profoundly missed at Old Trafford despite recent criticisms.

It cannot be denied that he enjoyed a remarkably successful 13-year, trophy laden career, and United fans across the world will never forget the remarkable achievements, memorable goals scored, his overall presence and the contributions made to the club both on and off the field, that certainly made his career truly special.

 

Written by Cristian Fry

Follow Cristian on Twitter @CristianF99

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