Legendary striker Wayne Rooney admits he misses Manchester United, but the current DC United star is looking forward to an Old Trafford return to watch a game over the Christmas period.
Rooney is back in England ahead of representing his country for one last time in a friendly against USA at Wembley. He took some time out from training at St George’s Park to speak with our reporter Stewart Gardner.
The club’s all-time leading scorer re-joined his former club Everton in 2017 before transferring to MLS side DC United last June. They were bottom of the league back then, but Rooney revitalised their season and powered them to the MLS playoffs, eventually losing out in a penalty shootout to Columbus Crew.
In our exclusive interview, the 33-year-old explains has no regrets about leaving United, though he is still rooting for Jose Mourinho's side and keeping in touch with developments at the club he served so well between 2004 and 2017.
“Of course you miss it,” Wayne told us.
“It was the highlight of my career, playing for Man United and I was there for so long. But it was the right time.
“I wasn't playing, first of all. I have always been a player who wants to play. Obviously I spoke to the manager and it didn't look like I was going to play, so it was the right decision and the right time for me to go. Obviously, you wish, the ideal situation was staying there and finishing your career there, but football changes. Different things happen and things happen for a reason.
“I left with great memories. I had a new opportunity to go and play in the States. I had a great time at United, though, and again I am looking forward to going back and seeing a few of my team-mates, and a few friends from the staff who I have made along the way.”
Rooney’s final appearance for United saw him playing his part in the historic Europa League final victory over Ajax in May 2017. Asked if he may have wanted a better chance to say goodbye to more of the supporters after so many memorable moments in the red shirt, Wayne was clear.
“To be fair, I would have taken winning the Europa League as my last game!” he said.
“But, no, I know what you're saying. It would have been nice to have done it at Old Trafford. But I have been back there a few times and I will be back over the Christmas period, at a game to watch them.
“The fans give me a great reception every time I go back and when I went back with Everton. That was a nice moment. I had some great moments and obviously the testimonial. The fans have been brilliant to me and it will be nice to see a few familiar faces when I go to a game over Christmas.”
Watch our full and exclusive interview with Wayne Rooney on ManUtd.com and in the Official Manchester United App from 13:30 GMT on Thursday.
To support the Wayne Rooney Foundation, which helps to improve the lives of disadvantaged children, you can text ROONEY to 70456 to donate £5, text ROONEY to 70577 to donate £10, or head to bt.com/Rooney to donate online.