Goodbye Wayne Rooney

So the time has come to say goodbye to Wayne Rooney, the last current Manchester United player who was truly my childhood hero. He burst into the scene when I was twelve with that spectacular strike against Arsenal that ended their unbeaten run. We would later learn that he loved a goal against the Gunners as he scored 14 goals against them in all competitions. 

Rooney Euro 2004
I live in a country where you either support Italy or England during big international tournaments, not that I care much about nowadays but it's good to join in the fun when footy madness hits my island. I remember Wayne just took Euro 2004 by storm; his finest tournament in an England shirt. How old was he? 18? And he managed to score 4 goals and give a country that has been disappointed so often by its national football team some hope. Obviously, the tournament ended in penalty pain for England and for Wayne who had to be subbed off because of an injury. Sometimes I wonder whether that England team would have managed to go the extra step if it wasn't for Roo's injury.

A summer of rumours followed and as a Manchester United mad boy I just couldn't wait till I see Wayne donning the United shirt. Back then we had no internet at our summer residence so I had to make do with newspapers that my grandpa used to buy every morning. Headers like 'Rooney close to United move' used to fill my heart with hope until the deal was confirmed on the 31st August 2014. I read the news on September 1st 2014 as I saw the teenager holding a Rooney 8 shirt with Sir Alex. It was exciting but I had to wait even more to see him play....Rooney was still carrying his Euro 2004 injury. 

I had been waiting for United to get their man (boy, really) for more than two months so waiting another 28 days didn't really bother me. And the wait was worth it. Manchester United vs Fenerbache, September 28th 2004...I was watching at home on a local TV station and the feeling was almost surreal. United win 6-2 and Rooney gets a hat-trick. Jesus, he scored three already how many goals will this guy score at United??! That's what I thought to myself. He went on to score another 250 goals and became United's all time leading scorer. He wrote his name in the club's history forever and I'm almost sure no one will come close to beating his record.

I was at Old Trafford when Roo scored this beauty

The explosive teen had everything and seemed like capable of doing anything. Set-pieces, tap-ins, long range strikes, spot kicks and delightful lobs. He showed us he can score a decent bicycle kick as well. I'll never forget his debut, his strike against Newcastle, his last-minute goal against Milan, that chip vs. Portsmouth, the goal vs. Arsenal's invincibles, that counter-attack vs Bolton, giving us hope vs Barcelona with a fine finish in the 2011 CL final, his goal from the halfway line vs West Ham and, finally, scoring what is arguably the Premier League's finest goal vs City in 2011. I can say that I was there, at Old Trafford, seeing with my very own eyes Wayne score a worldy against Manchester City.

I've loved Wayne since before he even joined United. Whenever class mates asked me who were my favourite players I always said Scholes and Rooney despite there being another brilliant talent in Ronaldo. I was never down with the way Cristiano celebrated by himself whenever he provided an assist or threw tantrums if something didn't go his way. I always pretended I was Rooney at the playground where I played footy with my mates. Actually, most of my friends pretended they're Wayne so it was just a question of who was the best Wayne at the playground. You were also in serious trouble if you dared question Wayne's ability and, believe me, there were plenty who said that he was overrated. 

The press conference when Fergie announced that Roo wanted to leave United

Rooney did break my heart too. In October 2010, Ferguson said that Rooney questioned the club's ambitions and wanted to leave United. You can read my blog post about this by clicking here. As can be seen in that post, I was hurt. I called him a twat and told him to fuck off. My hero wanted to leave the club I loved dearly. Back then, and no I am not exaggerating, it felt as bad as having a girlfriend dump you. That's how much I loved Wayne. I remember seeing Fergie's press conference where he explained what was Roo's situation. I felt sad seeing Fergie so glum and even sadder to learn that Wayne had asked to leave the club. I was 20 at the time, not a teenager anymore, but was acting like a child over the news. I was down and I let it known that I was angry and sad at the situation. It was only a couple days later when I felt like I woke up from a really bad dream when I read on that Rooney had just signed a new contract. I remember calling my friend Androo (yes, the second half of his name shows he was a big Rooney fan too) and telling him about the good news. I remember feeling relieved and you can read my blog post about it here.  A roller-coaster of emotions just in a couple of days.

Not going to lie, it took me a bit of time to warm up to him again but I just couldn't ignore what this guy had done for our club before and what he was still doing. The events of October 2010 weren't forgotten by some of the Old Trafford faithful who still sing Ronaldo's name despite him wanting to fuck off to Spain yet have reservations over Rooney just because he wanted to leave once. I suspect the fact that he's scouse played a big part in people moaning and groaning every time Roo's touch let him down. 

I still can't understand why there are people who still say that Rooney was never top-class. How can you score 253 goals for Manchester United and 53 goals for England and not be a top top striker? I'd be the first to admit that he's been in decline since we last won the league but he was a world-class footballer before that. No one will convince me otherwise. It's not just about his goals. He also provided countless of assists and put in some great shifts for the team. I remember at right back vs. Chelsea in the 2008 CL final.  

It has been sad to see Roo during the past couple of seasons. It was clear that he was not up to it anymore. He lost his pace and his first touch had gone missing. He could still hit some beautifully weighted Scholesesque passes but I think the only reason he stayed at our club for the 2016/17 season was to beat Charlton's record. The club gave him another season and he wanted another season despite knowing that his chances would be limited. I just saw his pictures in an Everton shirt and he looks absolutely happy. There was no doubt in my mind that he'd return to his boyhood club. Not sure he'll ever play in the US or China despite the lure of some good money. He is a blue and Everton is his home and I think his love for his boyhood club can reinvigorate his career. He's still 31 so I guess he's got enough time to bang in the goals for Everton and make amends with the fans who he might have hurt when he left the club in 2004. I hope he gets goals...perhaps a derby winner against Liverpool. He deserves this move. 

So here's to the greatest English talent of his generation, a Manchester United legend, England's all time top-scorer, Manchester United's all time top-scorer, a 5-time PL winner, Champions League Winner, an FA Cup winner, a Club World Cup winner, a Europa League winner, a 3-time League Cup winner, and a footballer who gave me one heart ache but at least 253 moments of joy. Thanks for the memories. Farewell Wayne, you legend. 

He won it all. Thank you, Wayne.


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