After 13 years of starring for Manchester United, Wayne Rooney is going home again to Liverpool. Rooney just re-joined Everton and signed a two-year contract after being allowed to leave Old Trafford on a free transfer. The 31-year-old forward/midfielder originally joined Everton when he was just nine years old and stayed with the club until he was 18.
Rooney played his first two pro seasons with Everton and was then sold to Man United for over 25 million pounds. He went on to become the famous club’s all-time leading scorer and also achieved the same feat with the English national team, which he captained. Below are 11 interesting facts that all soccer fans may not know about Rooney.
11. Could Have Played For Ireland
Even though Wayne Rooney was born on October 24th, 1985 in Croxteth, Liverpool, England, he had the opportunity to play for the Republic of Ireland. Because of FIFA’s somewhat lax rules regarding international eligibility, Rooney was eligible to play for Ireland as his paternal grandparents hail from the country. However, Rooney told the media that he was born in England and considers himself to be English through and through. He added that he never entertained the idea of lacing up his boots for any other nation. The Football Association of Ireland Irish definitely explored the possibility though and made inquiries about Rooney’s allegiance when he was 16 years old. Fortunately for England supporters, Rooney turned Ireland down and went on to captain his homeland.
10. Made Pro Debut At 16
Rooney’s soccer career looked promising when he was just nine-years-old when he joined Everton’s youth system. Seven years later he made his pro debut with the Liverpool-based club in August of 2002 as a 16-year-old. Rooney once scored 72 goals in a season for Liverpool Schoolboys and netted 99 times for a local junior league when he was nine. It was this milestone which caught the eye of Bob Pendleton, who was scouting for Everton. Rooney was the club’s mascot two years later in 1995/96 when Everton took on Liverpool in the famous Merseyside derby. Rooney seemed to score at will while playing in Everton’s youth system and was playing in the under-19 side when he was just 15. He was Everton’s second-youngest first-team player ever and at the time became the club’s youngest-ever goalscorer and the youngest-ever scorer in the Premier League.
9. Was World’s Most Expensive Teenager
After two years as a pro with Everton, Rooney wasn’t too impressed with the coaching methods of the club’s manager David Moyes and asked to be transferred in August of 2002. He was just 18-years-old, but had already proven he could handle the physicality and rigors of the English Premier League. Everton offered to raise his pay from £8,000 a week to £50,000 per week, but he was adamant on leaving Goodison Park. Newcastle United offered Everton £20 million for the youngster, but Everton turned it down. However, when Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United put in a bid of £25.6 million, Everton took it and Rooney was on his way 30 miles east to Old Trafford. At the time, the fee paid for Rooney was the highest ever for a teenaged soccer player. It’s since been broken by his former Man United teammate Anthony Martial who was signed for £51 million in 2015.
8. Youngest Ever To Score For England
Rooney had already set records at the time for being the youngest-ever scorer for Everton and the Premier League and would soon do the same for England’s senior national team. He found the back of the net in a 2-1 Euro 2004 qualifying win in Macedonia when he was 17 years and 317 days old. He made the history books with the goal in September of 2003. Just seven months earlier, Rooney had also become the youngest player to represent England at the senior level at 17 years and 111 days, but that record would later be broken by Theo Walcott of Arsenal. Once Rooney got to the Euro 2004 tournament he made an impact by scoring four goals and at the time became the youngest player to score in European Championship history. That record lasted just four days though as Johan Vonlanthen of Switzerland soon broke it.
7. Many Milestones
It’s certainly arguable, but Wayne Rooney could very well be the best player ever for England. He’s played at three World Cups and the 31-year-old could make it four next year in Russia. He’s the nation’s all-time leading scorer and most-capped outfield player at 119. The only player to make more appearances was goaltender Peter Shilton with 125. Among his many milestones and awards, Rooney has been named England Player of the Year four times as he was honored as recently as 2015 as well as 2008, 2009 and 2014. He’s been criticized by some for being dirty and it’s true Rooney holds the national team record for red cards along with David Beckham, but that record is just two reds in 119 games. Rooney has also won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award, the writers’ FWA Footballer of the Year award and was named the Premier League Player of the Month a second-best five times. He ranked fifth voting for the FIFA Ballon d’Or in 2011 and was named to the FIFPro World 11 squad the same year.
6. Enjoys Boxing
One of Rooney’s favorite sports is boxing and he also participates as well as watches it with a vested interest. It’s debatable just how good of a pugilist he is though as several videos of Rooney boxing have emerged on You Tube. On one of them, he appears to be knocked out by former teammate Phil Bardsley after the two of them laced up the gloves in Rooney’s kitchen in 2015. Rooney often attends pro boxing cards and is friends with several boxers including former world champion Ricky Hatton of Manchester, even accompanying him in his corner. Rooney, who used to watch all the big fights with his dad and two brothers as a youngster, credits boxing training at his uncle’s gym as being a help in his soccer career as it provided him with added strength and discipline.
5. Given Richest Book Deal
Back in March of 2006, Rooney signed a publishing deal with Harper Collins which was reportedly the richest ever at the time for a sports book. Rooney was paid £5 million in advance for a series of five books and he would also be paid royalties for the works. The soccer star agreed to produce the books over a span of 12 years and has already released three of them. The first publication was an autobiography which came out following the World Cup in 2006 and is called My Story So Far. The second book is titled The Official Wayne Rooney Annual and the third is called My Decade in the Premier League and came out in 2012. However, his first book cost him quite a bit of money as he was sued by his former manager at Everton David Moyes over certain passages in it. Rooney portrayed Moyes in a controversial light and was sued for libel along with co-writer Hunter Davis and the publishers Harper Collins. Rooney ended up taking the paragraph out of future pressings, apologized to Moyes and also paid him £500,000.
4. One Trophy Eludes Him
Rooney managed to hoist 16 trophies with Manchester United. These include five Premier League championships, an FA Cup, three League Cups, four FA Community Shields, a European Champions League, the Europa League and a FIFA Club World Cup. However, there’s one trophy which has eluded Rooney throughout his career and this is the European Super Cup. The European Super Cup is contested annually by the winners of the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League. Unfortunately for Rooney, Man United will be playing Real Madrid in this year’s Super Cup in Skopje, Macedonia after losing in their last appearance in 2008. Rooney and former Man United teammate Michael Carrick are the only two English players to win all of the trophies listed above and are both hoping to cap off their achievements with a Super Cup.
3. Is Fond Of Gambling
According to Rooney’s wife Coleen, the soccer star has a bit of a gambling problem. Fortunately, he has the money to support his habit though as well as pay for his hair transplants. Rooney reportedly lost £500,000 on blackjack and roulette in two hours during a recent visit to a local casino and admitted to losing £50,000 earlier in his career. It’s still over a week’s worth of wages for him though as Rooney’s paid approximately £300,000 a week. In fact, it’s believed that Rooney’s wife didn’t want him to transfer to a team in China due to his fondness for gambling. Since she would be staying in the UK, she voiced her concerns that Wayne could be tempted to visit the casinos if he was on his own. Of course, Rooney isn’t allowed to bet on soccer matches, so has taken a shine to casino games.
2. Generous Charity Donations
Yes, Rooney rakes in tons of money each week, but he also gives a share of his earnings to charities and those in need. His latest donation was £100,000 to the victims and families of the Manchester Arena bombing. The arena was the site of the horrific terrorist attack after an Ariana Grande performance on May 22nd. He also founded the Wayne Rooney Foundation which was set up to help vulnerable and disadvantaged children. Rooney said the attack affected him instantly as he’s spent many nights at the arena with friends and family and was horrified by the tragedy. In addition, Rooney donated more than £1 million to various children’s charities after his testimonial match against Everton at Old Trafford last year. He’s also supported the Willow Foundation, Claire House, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, and FIFA’s SOS Children’s Villages.
1. All-Time Leading Scorer for Man United and England
When Wayne Rooney does finally hang up his boots, he’ll go down in history as being one of soccer’s all-time greats. He’s the leading scorer of both Manchester United and England and is still just 31-year-old. Of course, he won’t be able to add on to his Man United totals, but should get the opportunity to keep representing England. Rooney made an instant impact at Man United by scoring a hat trick on his debut in a Champions League game against Fenerbahce. Rooney became the youngest player to score three goals in a Champions League game that day as he was 18 years and 335 days old. He leaves Old Trafford with 253 goals for the club after breaking the 44-year-old record of 249 set by Bobby Charlton in 758 games. Rooney’s goals game in 559 games for United at a rate of .45 goals-per-game and his 183 goals for the team are the most for one club in Premier League history. His 53 goals for England in 119 games are also a record as Charlton held the old mark with 49 goals in 106 outings.