It’s almost hard to believe that a 31 year old who spent last year as a role player for Manchester United is the second highest Premier League scorer of all time. But that man, Wayne Rooney, has, quietly made himself a legendary player and has defined an entire generation of English footballers.
Wayne recently returned to Everton, the club where it all began for him. While at the end of the day he will be remembered for the silverware he won as a Red Devil, now is as good a time as ever to take a look at how the Toffees of Everton molded Wayne Rooney into the player and the man he is today.
It is easy to view Rooney as a pure Englishman with Devil-red blood in his veins. This is actually very far from the truth. Wayne is of Irish decent and was born and raised in Merseyside blue. As an 11 year old he not only scored 114 goals in 29 games, but he also went on to be the Everton mascot at the senior derby against Liverpool.
Only six years later would he be on the field himself for Everton in the same fixture. From a very young age Rooney was taught how to commit to a cause. He became invested and used his talents wisely. Without the maturity and accountability he developed as a youngster he could have very well ended up like so many Englishmen before him, all talent and no ability to apply it.
Rooney’s first true step into greatness came against Arsenal, when he scored the last gasp winner to end the Gunners’ 30 match unbeaten streak. This would not be the last dramatic winner he would score for the Toffees in his two seasons with the club though.
From 2002-2004 it quickly became clear that the hometown lad had the fire, work rate, and winning mentality to become world class. By the end of his first professional stint with Everton, Rooney was one of the most highly regarded teenagers in the history of football. In the midst of his success, a move to Manchester United and the incentive of a trophy winning super club proved to be an option too good to refuse for Wayne.
At the time of his £26 million (unheard of at the time for an 18 year old) move to Manchester, some questioned him for a lack of loyalty to his boyhood club. Looking back on his time in Manchester, however, it is hard to blame him for a move that brought him so much success.
After 13 fruitful years as a Red Devil, Rooney has now moved back to Everton. He is genuinely home, and the timing for both club and player could not be better. Everton is primed for a season that could take things to the next level for the club, and Rooney is getting out of what has become a toxic and underachieving environment in Manchester.
Everton gave Wayne Rooney all they could and he will be looking to return the favour in this coming season. When the Premier League resumes in August look for a Rooney that has the ability to return to vintage form in his original colours.