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Wayne Rooney 10

When Wayne Rooney announced himself to the Premier League with a sensational last-minute winner that ended Arsenal's 30-match unbeaten run in October 2002, commentator Clive Tyldesley enthusiastically told viewers to "remember the name" of the young Everton forward. Up until then, the 16-year-old's talents were the Blues' best-kept secret because most Evertonians were already acutely aware of a player who would go on to become a household name and one of the most recognisable faces in the global game.

There had been a buzz around Rooney among those who followed Everton's youth setup for years and he had already started to fulfil his rich promise when he scored a stunning goal in an FA Youth Cup semi-final at White Hart Lane the previous season.  Later, in the final, he would flash an undershirt emblazoned with the quote that would come to represent bitter irony in 2004 and then symbolise the return of the Prodigal Son 13 years later in 2017: "Once a Blue, Always a Blue"...

Liverpool born and raised in Croxteth, Rooney was just days away from his 17th birthday when he exploded into the national consciousness with that one phenomenal swing of the boot against the Gunners.  Three weeks earlier he had notched his first senior goals in a 3-0 League Cup win at Wrexham, confirming the feeling at the club that they had found the answers to their prayers in a home-grown product capable of leading Everton out of more than a decade in the doldrums.

He followed that goal with a real predatory masterpiece against Leeds United that was to slay Everton's 51-year Elland Road hoodoo and a display of technical genius, physical strength, and mental determination with his third league goal against Blackburn after that. 

A lucrative three-year contract followed in January 2003 as the club tied their rising star to the longest terms permitted for a player of his age but Rooney's exploits on the domestic and then international stage eventually made him impossible to hold onto.

In 12 February 2003, still only 17 years and 111 days of age, Rooney became the youngest England player ever when he came on at half-time of an international friendly against Australia. By the following summer, he was the bright light threatening to take England all the way at Euro 2004 before a broken metatarsal sustained in the ill-fated quarter-final against Portugal ended his tournament.

Rooney would go on to score goals for his country than anyone before him and rack up 119 appearances but those precocious performances in Portugal where he scored four times would, in hindsight, represent the pinnacle of his international career. A leader of the Three Lions at subsequent major tournaments, he would, unfortunately, find himself at the centre of successive inquests into the glaring failure of the national team at the European Championships and World Cup.

His exploits in that 2004 tournament paved his road out of Goodison Park in August that year, however. It was both an acriminious and frustrating parting of the ways as Manchester United prised him away from his boyhood club in a deal that would ultimately be worth £27m once all the appearance and trophy-related add-ons were taken into account. It was a large fee at the time but still never felt to Everton fans as though it was enough.

David Moyes and Bill Kenwright had vowed repeatedly that he was not for sale but with his agent Paul Stretford feverishly working on making the move to Old Trafford happen, combined with the teenager's own attraction to the bright lights of Old Trafford and the chance to join Alex Ferguson's all-conquering Red Devils, Everton ultimately didn't stand a chance.

A hat-trick for his new club on his debut served to rub salt into Evertonian wounds, as would the sight later in his career of the still immature Rooney responding to taunts from the Goodison crowd by kissing the United badge after scoring a goal on his old stomping ground in L4.

Over the years, his relationship with the Goodison crowd went from fractious to bitter but through it all, in an insurmountable contradiction for many fans, Rooney remained a Blue at heart. His children would become Evertonians and he attended the 2009 FA Cup Final with young Kai dressed in Everton blue, the beginning of a thaw in his frosty detente with the fans who once idolised him. 

By 2015, Rooney's standing at Goodison had improved to such a degree that he was asked to turn out in the Royal Blue jersey for the first time in over a decade for Duncan Ferguson's testimonial. And when his own testimonial for United rolled around the next year, it was Everton whom he chose as the opposition.

In between, Wayne had broken Bobby Charlton's long-standing goalscoring record for England and 2016-17 saw the former Blue do the same for Manchester United, surpassing the Red Devils' legend with his 250th goal in their colours in January 2017.

With that milestone successfully passed and him no longer an automatic starter under then United manager Jose Mourinho, the rumblings around a possible return to Goodison began in earnest. A loan switch that was mooted that month didn't come to fruition but a permanent move back to Everton for around £10m was concluded in July 2017.

Rooney, then 31, signed a two-year deal and effectively swapped places with Romelu Lukaku who left the Blues in a record-breaking deal between English clubs when he signed for Man United for £75m (with a further £15m in add-ons) and, true to form, he scored on his second Premier League debut for the Toffees in a 1-0 victory over Stoke City.

Less than a fortnight later, he announced his retirement from international football, explaining his desire to focus on helping Everton become successful again as his primary motivation. But that lofty vision was soon tarnished when the Everton star was arrested for drink driving at 2 am, with a single mother, while his pregnant wife Collen was away on holiday in Majorca.

FactFile

Position Forward
Nationality English
Born Croxteth, Liverpool
Date of birth 24 October 1985
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)
First spell
Squad number 18
Joined from Youth academy
Signed by David Moyes
Contract duration 3 years
Full debut v Tottenham (h)
17 August 2002
Left Everton 31 August,\ 2004
Signed for Manchester United, £27m
Second spell
Squad number 10
Joined from Manchester United
Signed by Ronald Koeman
Transfer fee £10m
Contract duration 2 years
Second debut v MFK Ruzomberok (H)
28 July 2017
Previous Clubs Manchester United

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Everton Career

Season Squad No. League Apps (sub) League Goals Cup Apps (sub) Cup Goals Total Apps (sub) Total Goals
2001-02 18 0 (0) 0 0 (0) 0 0 (0) 0
2002-03 18 14 (19) 6 3 (1) 2 17 (20) 8
2003-04 18 26 (8) 9 5 (1) 0 31 (9) 9
2004-05 18 0 (0) 0 0 (0) 0 0 (0) 0
2017-18  () () ()
  Totals () () ()


Previous League Career

Season Team Appearances Goals
2004-2017 Manchester United 354 (39) & 142 (22) 183 & 70


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