Wayne Rooney burst onto the Old Trafford stage in September 2004, netting an unforgettable hat-trick against Fenerbahce on his debut.
He'd arrived from Everton, his boyhood club, a few weeks earlier, becoming the world's most expensive teenager in the process. But it wasn't his performances for the Toffees that had sparked United's interest, mind you. Staff at Carrington knew about Wayne from a much, much earlier age.
"Our U-9 side played Everton's boys one day and they absolutely hammered us," now-Academy manager Paul McGuinness remembers. "Rooney scored a few [six, actually], but there was one 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."
Given that, perhaps his performance on his United debut wasn't that surprising after all! Indeed, it merely hinted at what was to follow. By the end of the 2004/05 campaign Rooney had amassed 17 goals in 43 appearances and was rightly named PFA Young Player of the Year.
Rooney’s second season at Old Trafford again saw him take huge strides. He ended the season with 19 goals in 48 matches and was voted both Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year by fans and PFA Young Player of the year