Written by Carl Walker

On 19th October 2002, with the game between Everton and Arsenal tied at 1-1 and time ticking away, the game looked destined for a draw. A plucky rejuvenated Everton under David Moyes against the champions Arsenal, a point would of been taken at the start of the game no doubt.

As a looping ball came over the top towards Rooney, he beautifully controlled the ball and brought it down, swivelled on the ball and curled a shot beyond on the outstretched arm or David Seaman, clipping the underside of the bar on its way in. Goodison Erupted in euphoria. A star is born. Everton had unearthed and unleashed a gem.

credit Philip Wilson

The world was forced to sit up and take notice with his blistering performances in his first full Everton season, still on a Y-T-S contract of £80 pound a week, there was no shortage of interest in the apprentice, but it was one man and club that won the race to sign him. Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United. In 2004 Sir Alex Ferguson brought Wayne Rooney to Manchester United for a fee of £25.6 million, a bargain in terms of the success he has helped Manchester United achieve. So what about the man himself?

Wayne Rooney is a natural footballer, by this I mean he’s not manufactured like some of the players you see now. A street footballer, someone who could cut it at any level, weather that be playing on the tarmacked streets of Merseyside, 6- a side on the local AstroTurf or gracing the pitches of Old Trafford and Wembley Stadium. A stocky, strong aggressive player, with deceptive speed and a real eye for goal Wayne Rooney is one of the greatest finishers I have had the pleasure of watching play the game, and he’s also proved he can do it at the very top level, International football.

Playing at a club like Manchester United and under a manager like Sir Alex was always going to bring the best out of Wayne and make sure his full potential is realised, and it definitely did, playing alongside other world class players such as Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Cristiano Ronaldo and I am sure there are plenty more on that list, Wayne himself became the world class player we all knew he could be and in doing so, one of the most feared strikers in Europe.

credit Ian C

On Saturday against Reading in the F.A Cup, and with Sir Bobby Charlton in attendance, Wayne Rooney equalled Sir Bobby’s record of being the all time leading goal scorer at Manchester United, a record that Wayne will snow surely surpass. Wayne Rooney is also Manchester United’s all time leader scorer in European competitions with 39 goals, surpassing Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s record of 38.

Wayne is no stranger to breaking records. When he netted his first Premier League goal for Everton, at the time he was the youngest scorer, this has now been surpassed by James Milner and now James Vaughan. When Rooney made his international debut for England, he was the youngest player to do so, again this record has now been surpassed by Theo Walcott.

One record that Wayne Rooney has not just equalled, but broken is with England, he currently holds the record of England’s all time leading goal scorer with 53 goals, yet another record that Sir Booby held, which was broken when Rooney scored from the spot against Switzerland. He currently sits on 53 goals for Engalnd.

credit world_pictures77

Another Record in his sights for the national team is the appearance record which has long been held by Peter Shilton who has 125 caps, Wayne currently sits on 119, yet another magnificent achievement, if and probably when he reaches it. Wayne is current the all time appearance holder for an outfield player.

Wayne Rooney’s career has been littered with success and record breaking achievements, to this date here is what he has won during his club career.

5 Premier League Titles
1 F.A Cup trophy
2 League Cup titles
4 F.A Community Shields
1 UEFA Champions League title
1 FIFA Club World Cup

Wayne is still only 31 years old, his achievements are remarkable, and his career has been like no other, there have been low points too. The sending off against Portugal in the 2006 World Cup being one, extra marital affairs too.

In recent seasons it seems that Wayne Rooney’s career has slowed down, and he himself has slowed or started his decline. His goal tally was affected in the last eighteen months after being played in a much deeper position, usually behind the main striker to accommodate the likes of Van Persie and even Falcao. Wayne has now seen himself to be someone who is picking passes, dictating tempo and starting attacks. This being said he has still been the heartbeat of the team, a leader on the pitch and Wayne has divided opinion amongst Manchester United fans for the past two seasons. Many fans believe that this should be his last season, some think he should already have gone.

Manchester United are currently in transition, a new manager, the one they should of appointed after Sir Alex left, is finally in and laying down the law. Jose knows that he needs to make an instant impact, there will be players sold in the next two windows so does Wayne have a future at Manchester United and with England?

With England its pretty clear, and rightly so, that he does have a future with the national team. Gareth Southgate has seen that his experience will be invaluable for progress to be made. He has also made sure that Wayne retains the armband, good decision. Like I have recently said in my England piece, the right mix is needed in order for the national team to be successful.

With Manchester United, Wayne can still have a role to play, although it probably won’t be as the lead role. This is a new look Manchester United, a rebuilding process is currently going on and a more youthful, pacey, attack minded team is being built.

Manchester United in my opinion should keep hold of Wayne, and tap into that vast experience he has and help him use that with some of these younger players like Rashford, Martial and Lingard. Similar to what Zlatan is doing now.

Wayne himself should look to Zlatan Ibrahimovic himself, if he is wondering if a thirty something can still play a role at the club then the answer is yes, although Zlatan is playing like he is 24 not 34 and offers something different to what Wayne would do to the size of his frame and aerial ability.

The last decision will ultimately lie with Wayne himself, if he wants to be the main man, star of the show, he’s not going to get that at United, after this season a cameo at best is what he can hope for. If he does decide to leave there will be no shortage of takers and his agents phone will more than likely be non stop.

Emerging markets in China have made money no object for the clubs in the top league and with China looking to establish itself as a world leader in football now, offering huge wages to Rooney would be no problem, he would be seen as the poster boy if you like, the golden goose. The players that have already moved to the far east has definitely seen an increase in interest. Oscar, Lavezzi, Mikel, Ba, Pelle and Tevez to name a few.

America, once seen as a European retirement home for the ageing professional, has seen drastic improvements in the MLS in the past eight to ten years, this all kicked off with another former Manchester United player, David Beckham. Once again I am sure plenty of clubs would like to sign him as one of their designated players. The MLS boasts some great names in football, the likes of Kaka, Pirlo, David Villa, Dos Santos and many more. Wayne would again earn good money no doubt, probably not on the level offered in China though.

European clubs who again have big spending power may take an interest, team like AC Milan with new investment or PSG may well take a look, their is also the option closer to home, Wayne could return to Everton albeit probably on a wage cut. The club that brought him through, in the place where he grew up as a kid playing for Copplehouse Boys.

Whatever happens and what ever Wayne Rooney decides to do, I am sure he will break that record that he is agonisingly close to doing so and he will be remembered as a true legend at both club and international level. There can be no denying that his achievements have and will make him one of the greatest that we have seen on our shores. Appreciate him while you can, he wont be around for ever.

He goes by the name of Wayne Rooney……..

Should Rooney be considered an all time great? Should he stay at Manchester United? Let us know your thoughts on the captain in the comments below!