The career of the greatest English player of all-time has come to an end, as Wayne Rooney officially retired from playing to become the permanent manager of Derby County.
Rooney has been in caretaker charge of the Rams since mid-Novemeber when Philip Cocu was sacked, but he’s now signed a new two-and-a-half year contract to take charge permanently. This has made his call time on a playing career that saw him become the all-time top goalscorer of both Manchester United and England.
The Red Devils saw the best of Rooney’s career, as he spent 13 years at the club before eventually moving on. He also represented Everton, his boyhood club, twice as well as DC United in the MLS and Derby as a player.
He is the only player in Premier League history to have scored over 200 goals and registered over 100 assists, putting him in the conversation with the best players the league has ever seen.
Overall, Rooney scored over 350 career goals for club and country. But which were his best? Here’s my top five* Wayne Rooney goals..
*I’ve left out my personal favourite Wayne Rooney goal because while I love a cheeky dinked finish, it doesn’t quite match up to the outright, undeniable quality of the five selected.
5. Halfway line (again) – Everton 3-0 West Ham, 2017
Not many players can say they scored from the halfway line during their career. Rooney can say he did it three times, once for each club he played for, and twice against West Ham.
This one was the best of the bunch though, as he struck a moving ball low and hard into the back of the net. He kept the ball relatively low, but still got it over the heads of two defenders and with enough pace on it to beat the keeper.
Oh, and it completed his hat-trick in the game too for added measure.
4. Naughty chip – Manchester United 2-0 Portsmouth (FA Cup), 2007
Rooney was a losing FA Cup finalist twice during his time at Manchester United, before finally winning the competition as captain under Louis van Gaal.
That didn’t stop him scoring some memorable goals in the competition though, including this absolute beauty against Portsmouth in 2007. As United led into the final ten minutes and were looking to see the game out, Rooney collected the ball outside the box and just delicately lifted a chip over the head of David James and in off the crossbar to seal progression into the next round. Eric Cantona-esque.
3. “Remember the name.. Wayne Rooney!” – Everton 2-1 Arsenal, 2002
The goal that started it all.
Five days short of his 17th birthday Rooney stepped onto the Goodison Park pitch as a substitute against the mighty Arsenal, who were in the midst of a 30 game unbeaten run in the Premier League. The Gunners took the lead before Everton equalised and then Rooney had the final say on the day.
He controlled a pass that dropped over his shoulder, before shifting the ball out of his feet and then curling a stunning 25-yard strike into the top corner off the crossbar. The commentary said it all, “remember the name.. Wayne Rooney!”
2. Angry volley – Manchester United 2-1 Newcastle United, 2005
During Wayne Rooney’s early years at Old Trafford, there was nothing scarier as a defender than when he got wound up.
Newcastle found that out first hand when calls kept going against him during this game. He was in the middle of an argument with the referee about not getting a decision when the ball got sent forward defence, only for the Newcastle defender to try and head it away straight into his path. Rooney ran onto the ball and tried to put it through the net with a scorching volley, which swerved from wide of the post to into the top corner for an absolutely stunning goal.
We still see repeats to this day, and we watch every time.
1. You know the one.. – Manchester United 2-1 Manchester City, 2012
Not much to say about this goal really, is there?
A Manchester derby against the noisy neighbours who were really starting to stir things up, Rooney took it upon himself to win this game with a moment of magic that just defined his career.
Paul Scholes switched the play out to Nani, who delivered a cross behind Rooney who was rushing in on goal. Instead of letting it go behind him, Rooney stopped and swung his feet above his head and struck a bicycle kick so purely into the top corner that Joe Hart could only stand and watch.
The greatest goal in Premier League history, by one of the most complete players in Premier League history.
Happy retirement, Wazza!