‘His career was the one I would have wanted’

Wednesday 28 September 2022 09:47

Today (Wednesday) is exactly 18 years to the day since Wayne Rooney announced himself as a Manchester United player.

Making the short journey across from Merseyside and Everton, an 18-year-old Wayne made the perfect start to life as a Red, scoring a hat-trick on a memorable winning debut at Old Trafford against Fenerbahce in the Champions League. 

Rooney would, of course, never look back and by the time he returned to Goodison Park in 2017, he had safely become a United legend, as the club’s all-time top goal scorer and having won pretty much everything there is to win. 

His stats and career record in M16 are both easy to appreciate, but as a fellow striker, former Red Danny Webber was in awe of the manner in which he played the game and his position.
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“I think if you asked any kid, when I was 15, his career was the one I would have wanted,” Webber said on this week’s episode of The Debate.

“I think every player that comes through, if you’re a Man United fan, you think, you want to score goals for Man United, you want to play for your country, you want to be the top scorer for each of them. 

“He’s nailed it, but not only that, his passion never disappeared, he played with fire in his belly. I’ve seen interviews where he’s saying he wasn’t that bothered about scoring goals, he was bored, he just wanted to get a touch on the ball, and he loved playing football."

As a teenager that had already displayed his ability to score goals in the Premier League, Rooney arrived at Old Trafford with an abundance of expectation, particularly off the back of a Euro 2004 campaign with England in which he continued to catch the eye. 

Webber explains there were several reasons why a young Wayne continued to go from strength to strength after signing for United however, including being granted a “creative freedom” to play his game.

“He had the shoulders to carry on playing like he was a kid on the street. It worked, he scored goals. 

“He was also flexible enough to go and play wide and understand he was part of a bigger operation, which was the team.

“The bottom line is, he wanted to fight, and he wanted to win. All of those things put together made him what he was.”