English Premier League

Everton is no ‘retirement home’, says Wayne Rooney after Manchester United switch

Former England captain returns to Goodison Park 13 years after leaving for Old Trafford

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 July, 2017, 10:30am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 July, 2017, 8:48pm

England’s record goalscorer Wayne Rooney insists Everton is “not a retirement home” after making an emotional return to Goodison Park.

Rooney rejoined his boyhood club on Sunday after 13 years at Manchester United where he was also the record goalscorer having broken another United icon Bobby Charlton’s mark last season.

The 31-year-old believes he can bring back success to a club who have not lifted a trophy since winning the FA Cup in 1995.

“I’m not coming into a retirement home,” said Rooney.

“I want to play, win and be successful. I feel good. I’m not fit at the moment but that will build up in the next few weeks.

“I’m excited. I think it’s the right time and I’m ready for it.”

Rooney admitted in May he had become frustrated by a lack of game time at Old Trafford, where he made just 15 Premier League starts last season.

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Rooney hopes he can get more regular games at Goodison Park to secure a place in England’s World Cup squad next summer.

The striker has lost both his place and the captaincy since Gareth Southgate took charge, and knows he faces a battle to get back into the side.

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“I’m focused on Everton, playing well for Everton,” said Rooney, who appeared at his first major finals for England at Euro 2004 and scored four goals.

“If I do that Gareth Southgate will have a decision to make, whether he puts me back in the squad or not.

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“Hopefully my performances are good enough for Everton and he won’t be able to ignore me if they are.”

Rooney was a nine-year-old spectator at Wembley the last time they won a trophy after beating United in the 1995 FA Cup final.

“You play football to try to win trophies and that’s what we want to do,” said Rooney.

“We want to be successful and we know the right man to lead us to it. It’ll be incredible to win something with Everton.

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“I was at the FA Cup final in 1995 when we won that and to win a trophy with Everton would be a special moment.”

Rooney faces the challenge of settling into a squad which is losing last season’s leading scorer Romelu Lukaku to United in a £75 million (HK$755 million) deal.

“We had a great striker like Romelu scoring 25 goals last season, but we needed more players with more productivity,” said Everton manager Ronald Koeman.

“It’s what we need to improve. I’d rather have several players scoring 10 goals. Wayne can bring that to the team.

“The experience of Wayne is really important to bring over to the rest of the players.

“He is an example for the younger players. I think we have missed a player like Wayne to have that experience in the team.

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“So far we are doing good business and you will see in the next weeks, maybe we will do more.”

Rooney may be happy to have returned to the club he supported as a boy but his family too are ecstatic.

“My eldest lad was the happiest ever, I think, and also my Dad who’s Evertonian,” said Rooney.

“He’s gone off to watch me for the last 13 years at Manchester and now he’ll have a five-minute drive to watch me play again so I think he’s really happy.”