Rumours were already making the rounds that Everton had within their ranks a supremely talented 16-year-old kid who would become the next-big-thing in England. Little did we knew about his incredible talent until that moment. 19th October, 2002. With seconds remaining on the clock, a stunning strike helped Everton defeat the reigning champions Arsenal and end their 30-match unbeaten run in the Premier League, leaving Clive Tyldesley screaming out – “Remember the name Wayne Rooney”.
Two years later he was packing his bags for Euro 2004 in Portugal. He left an indelible impression and lit up the competition with four goals and some breath taking performances. Sadly, his fairytale journey abruptly ended due to an injury suffered against Portugal in the quarter-final, where England would go on to lose. What remains more painful is, ten years on, that tournament still remains the pinnacle of Wayne Rooney’s international career.
After such heroic exploits in 2004, it came as no surprise that Manchester United shelled out close to £30m for Wayne Rooney. Since then, it has been a romantic journey albeit interspersed with varying degree of tensions surrounding his future.
Rooney has marked his ten years at the club by thanking Sir Alex Ferguson, who signed him from Everton, for giving him the chance to flourish at Old Trafford. On this occasion, we take a look at Wayne Rooney’s 10 best moments for Manchester United.
Debut delight, 2004
Rooney had to wait till September to don the Red shirt because of the injury he suffered in the Euro 2004. But on the night when he finally did, it probably went down as the greatest ever debut by any Manchester United player, after he scored an exquisite hat-trick against Turkish club Fenerbahce.
Unreal strike v Newcastle, 2005
In April 2005, on a sunny afternoon, Newcastle thought they would secure a famous victory at Old Trafford after a long long time. Wayne Rooney stepped up with a thunderous volley from well outside the area bringing the game back to life. A magical strike. Till date, probably it is Rooney’s most perfectly executed strike ever in his career.
Sublime double from Wazza, 2005
Early that year, in the FA Cup 4th round, Rooney produced two goals of sublime quality, to which Boro had no answer. An audacious chip from 40 yards out was followed by a terrific volley, leaving Mark Schwarzer helplessly shaking his head in disbelief.
Bolton v Manchester United, 2006
Following a disappointing World Cup campaign, Rooney was going through a bad-patch, failing to score in 10 matches for his club and country. Against Bolton at the Reebok Stadium, the maverick returned to form with a finely taken treble, his first since that magical night against Fenerbahce two years ago.
Fergie time winner, 2007
The first leg of the Champions League semi-final at Old Trafford saw a masterclass performance from Kaka. The Brazilian simply tore apart United defence in the first half scoring two goals. But in the second half Rooney responded in his own style with a finely taken brace, with the second one coming deep into “Fergie Time” providing a fitting finale to an enthralling game of football.
Despite all his brilliances, Rooney never stood out as the league’s best player in any particular season. Neither did he scored 30 goals in any league campaign before. Following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid, Rooney became the spearhead of United’s attack and ended the season with 34 goals to his name. He also won PFA’s Player of the year award.
That goal against Manchester City, 2011
It was voted as the best goal in the Premier League era. Nani floated a cross from the right wing which looked way out of reach of Rooney to chest it and hit on the volley. But…well…you know…this after all was Wayne Rooney. He chose to do an outrageous bicycle kick instead leaving the Old Trafford fans in absolute awe, admiration and delirium.
Bend it like Rooney, 2011
The game is largely remembered for the scoreline more than anything else. Manchester United’s 8-2 comprehensive victory over Arsenal was the club’s biggest margin win over their arch rivals. Rooney proved that he may not be David Beckham, but can be quite useful in taking free-kicks as well. He scored from two free-kicks of great quality (one curled in at the near post and another at the far post) and scored his hat-trick after scoring from the penalty spot.
Carling Cup, 2010
United came second in 2009-10 in the Premier League and missed out on Champions League and FA Cup as well. But they ended the season with a silverware after beating Aston Villa in the Carling Cup, where Rooney scored the winner.
Four goals v Hull City, 2010
In January 2010, Rooney single handedly demolished Hull City at Old Trafford. He bagged all the four goals, with the last three coming in the final 10 minutes.
Rooney has signed a new five-and-a-half-year contract in February while is only 32 goals shy of becoming all time leading goal scorer for Manchester United.