Against Everton Wayne Rooney could grab his 100th club goal - 17 of which came from his time at Goodison. Here, we track his path to Old Trafford...
Amid the pandemonium at Goodison Park, Clive Tyldsley bellowed: "Remember the name, Wayne Rooney." Moments earlier, the 16-year-old had announced himself to the football world by hammering a 30-yard injury-time winner against champions Arsenal.
Thirty-five miles down the East Lancs Road, knowing looks were exchanged. Master Rooney had surfaced on United's radar long before making a mug of David Seaman. He'd done the same to United's Schmeichel - Kasper Schmeichel, that is - at Littleton Road, against a United Under-9s side playing their first ever match.
“We hadn’t played any games before, the boys had just been training together,” recalls Paul McGuinness, now manager of United’s U18s. “We didn’t even have a goalkeeper, so Peter Schmeichel’s son Kasper played for us. He was the only kid we knew who played in goal! The Everton boys had been playing together for at least a year in a league beforehand, so they were used to playing games. You could tell, because they absolutely hammered us."
It wasn't just the scoreline (12-2) which stuck in the memory. All the talk was of a stunning goal from Rooney. “He scored a few (six to be exact), but there was one goal that stood out. It was basically the classic overhead kick, the perfect bicycle kick, which for a kid of eight or nine years old was really something special.”
“We were all wondering who this kid was,” recalls McGuinness. “It transpired that he was from a tough, boxing background, a sporting family and he was a diehard Everton fan. At that time you didn’t really get any kids crossing over to Manchester from Liverpool. We looked at it behind the scenes, but he was too fixated on Everton to contemplate leaving them.”
Keen to put a positive spin on the news that the new U9s had taken a double-digit hammering, McGuinness informed Sir Alex Ferguson about the 9-year-old talent that had done all the damage. “I remember coming back saying that we’d been beaten by 10 goals," he recalls. "You don’t generally want to advertise that fact to the manager - but I did mention that we’d seen a kid who had done very well."
Rooney continued his fast-track ascension through Everton’s ranks. The double hat-tricks and overhead kicks were harder to come by, but the