Few have had playing careers as eventful as England record goalscorer Wayne Rooney’s and now he is getting firmly stuck into management at Derby County.
Prior to October 19th 2002, only those closely connected to Everton had heard of the Croxteth-born youngster, but after he fired in a long-range cracker against an Arsenal side at the peak of their powers under Arsene Wenger, everyone took notice.
Rooney was already being hailed by the press as the next big thing and an England debut aged 17 swiftly followed.
His breakthrough as a potential superstar of the game came in the summer of 2004 – he shone for England at the Euros before being injured and a move away from Goodison Park seemed inevitable.
Old Trafford Beckoned
Sir Alex Ferguson, a man who certainly knows how to spot a player, decided he was worthy of a record-breaking transfer as a teenager and Rooney made his debut against Fenerbahce in September 2004, scoring a superb hat-trick to send the hype into overdrive.
Rooney spent 13 years at Old Trafford and an entire book could be dedicated to his achievements and finest moments.
He won five Premier League titles, the Champions League, the Europa League, the FA Cup, and three League Cups.
On a personal level, he was named Premier League Player of the Season in 2010, broke Bobby Charlton’s record for number of goals scored by a United player, and, at international level, became England’s most-capped outfield player of all-time.
He struck his fair share of truly memorable goals – a sensational volley against Newcastle United in 2005, a Beckham-esque halfway line chip against West Ham in 2014 and, perhaps most fondly remembered, a spectacular overhead kick against Manchester City in 2011.
Doubts Somehow Remained
Of course, with the stratospheric highs came the plunging lows – Rooney was never one to avoid controversy.
His fiery temper meant discipline could often be a problem – he picked up over 100 yellow cards in the Premier League, as well as a smattering of red ones.
He also drew heavy criticism for his conduct in 2010 when he declared he wanted to leave Old Trafford, before signing a new bumper five-year deal days later.
Rooney’s England career also divides opinion – while he is the record goalscorer, many feel he underachieved in tournament football, particularly after what he showed in 2004.
MLS Move Then Back to Derby
After leaving Manchester United to return to Everton, Rooney then went stateside to play for DC United before returning to Derby, where he ended his playing career last year.
Now, the cash-strapped Rams have turned to him as manager to try and dig them out of a big hole in the Championship.
Rooney was able to use his experience to guide them to safety last season, but has only been able to utilise the summer transfer window sparingly owing to punishments for financial misdemeanours.
If the 35-year-old can keep them in the division for another season then he will have built up an enormous amount of credit for doing so under the most adverse circumstances.
With many clubs opting to go for “names” – Rooney certainly being one of them – then don’t be surprised if a bigger club comes calling if the Derby man continues to keep the club afloat.