After a stellar 13-year association with Manchester United, Wayne Rooney left Manchester United last month. He had joined the club in 2004 form Everton on a 26.5 million dollar transfer fee at a time when United had just lost Beckham.
Who would have thought that the 19-year-old kid would go on to become the club’s all-time leading goal scorer with an astonishing 253 goals in 559 appearances, bettering the record of Sir Bobby Charlton. In his first match, he showed the glimpses of his rare talent scoring a hat-trick against Galatasaray United in a Champions League match.
With Cristiano Ronaldo, Rooney formed one of the most scintillating partnerships the world has ever seen in the Premier League and that was the time when United were considered an unbeatable force.
He played a leading role in United’s years of sheer dominance from 2006 to 2009 when they won Premier League three times, Champions League once, FIFA club championship once. Rooney was the centre of attention, scoring crucial goals and making assists.
He bagged the Sir Matt Busby Player of the year award in 2005-06 and 2009-10, Premier League’s best player of the season in 2009-10 and England’s player of the year in 2008, 09, 14, and 15.
He had a rare ability to play as a forward as well as a midfielder and was unstoppable when he got going. His assists were brilliant too. But he is renowned for his bicycle kick goal which was hailed as the best goal of the last 20 Premier League seasons against their rivals Manchester City.
But during the last three to four years, his game and charm declined and with injuries happening every now and then he hardly played the matches for full 90 minutes.
His talks of leaving United came on the surface in 2012-13 when Van Persie succeeded him as the main striker and he had a bitter tussle with MU manager Alex Ferguson who departed on a high note, bringing home the 13th League title and 27th of his career.
David Moyes, who was Rooney’s coach at Everton, succeeded Ferguson at United. Moyes announced that Rooney was not for sale, ending the speculations of his transfer to Arsenal, Chelsea or Real Madrid.
The next season Nemanja Vidic left United and Van Gaal made him the full-time captain. During his tenure he was fitted into the role of a midfielder.
The 2016-17 started with the arrival of arrogant Jose Mourinho who is famous for doing injustice to world-class players such as Kaka and Casillas, keeping them on the sidelines. He did the same with Rooney this season.
With United making signings bringing Zlatan Ibrahimovic and their youngsters coming to the task, his place looked more uncertain and injuries were not leaving him.
On January 7, he scored against Reading Football Club in a FA Cup match to equal Bobby Charlton’s tally of 249 goals and on January 21 against Stoke City he scored a goal on a free kick to become the outright top goal scorer for United.
On July 9, it was confirmed that he would return to his boyhood club Everton on a free transfer based on a two-year contract. This was the end of a glorious era.
It was disheartening to see such a prolific player departing in such a way.