Wayne Rooney

Rooney's journey since leaving United in 2017

Friday 16 July 2021 13:00

Wayne Rooney has enjoyed a busy and varied quartet of seasons since leaving Manchester United in 2017 as our record goalscorer.

The England striker made his final United appearance as a late substitute in our UEFA Europa League win on 24 May 2017, returning to boyhood club Everton soon after on a free transfer.

Receiving a mixed reaction at first from the Everton faithful, Rooney quickly won the fans over at Goodison Park with an impressive opening to his second stint at the club. He scored on his second league debut in a 1-0 win against Stoke City, the same team he netted against to beat Sir Bobby Charlton's goalscoring record at United.

A brilliant hat-trick - punctuated by a wonderful halfway line goal - was the highlight of his time on Merseyside. He scored three in Everton's 4-0 win against West Ham in November 2017 and this stunning first-time shot that flew over a back-peddling Joe Hart had jaws dropping.

Originally penning a two-year deal at Everton, Rooney left after just one season - although in that time he did manage to score his 200th Premier League goal, the second player to reach the landmark after Alan Shearer - to move stateside and join DC United of Major League Soccer.

Joining on 28 June 2018 midway through the season, Rooney was named captain after three games. In his first appearance as skipper, he found the net for the first time, finishing past United old boy Tim Howard in a 2-1 win against Colorado Rapids. In typical Wazza fashion, he left the pitch with a broken nose after a clash of heads. Such determination impressed fans throughout his stay in America, never more so than in August 2018 when, with the score 2-2 against Orlando City, Rooney charged back into his own half and made a fine tackle to prevent a certain goal. Taking the ball forward, he glanced up to see his teammates still in the final third and floated an inch-perfect ball into the box which was duly headed home.

That result, among others, helped DC United to a play-off spot but that's where their run ended, Rooney being named the club's MVP and winner of their Golden Boot.

In his second season with DC, Rooney scored from beyond the halfway line for the third time in his career, having already done so with Manchester United and Everton, against West Ham United on both occasions. This time it was against Orlando, another wonderful moment of skill and vision.

After 18 months in the USA, Rooney returned to England to take up a player-coach role with Derby County in January 2020. Made captain immediately, he registered an assist on his debut against Barnsley and scored six goals in his 24 appearances as the Rams finished 10th.

A woeful start to the season saw manager Phillip Cocu leave by mutual consent a few games into the 2020/21 campaign and Rooney was part of a four-man interim team to take over, his three colleagues being Liam Rosenior, Shay Given and Justin Walker. Rooney was announced as the sole manager on 26 November and after taking the club from bottom-of-the-table and six points from safety to 18th and eight points clear of the relegation zone, he was given the permanent job on 15 January 2021, at which point he announced his retirement as a player.

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By mid-February, Rooney's side had amassed 34 points from a possible 54 under his guidance but form soon faltered. One win in 14 games followed, leaving the club in a relegation battle going into the final weeks of the season. Regular changes to the team - some forced by injuries, others by tactics - didn't help. With a dramatic 3-3 draw against Sheffield Wednesday on the final day of the season, Derby stayed up by the skin of their teeth.

Rooney's challenge now is to build a Derby side capable of comfortably avoiding the drop but the pressure will be on in what will undoubtedly be another tough Championship season.

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