Rooney leaves mixed legacy as he starts new chapter
London: Wayne Rooney is Manchester United’s and England’s all-time record goalscorer, a Champions League winner and a five-time Premier League champion but rarely has a player of his stature divided opinion so starkly.
Despite his trophy-laden CV, Rooney departs for DC United in Major League Soccer with a curious sense of a talent not quite fulfilled — a feeling that his career has not lived up to the early hype.
Born in Croxteth, Liverpool, Rooney fulfilled a childhood dream by breaking through the ranks at Everton.
He quickly earned a reputation as the most talented teenager in English football, announcing his arrival with a sensational strike to beat then-champions Arsenal five days before his 17th birthday.
International recognition soon followed and when Rooney scored four times in the group stages of Euro 2004, England had a new national hero.
But the teenager limped off midway through the first half of England’s quarter-final against Portugal after suffering a broken bone in his foot.
Without him, England suffered another heartbreaking exit on penalties and, rather than acting as a springboard, that was as close as Rooney ever came to winning an international tournament.
His performances in Portugal did, though, help earn him seal a £27 million move to Manchester United weeks later.
“I think we have got the best young player this country has seen in the past 30 years,” said United boss Alex Ferguson on the day he splashed out a then world record fee for a teenager.