It is fitting that Wayne Rooney runs out for Manchester United against Everton tonight to mark the tenth anniversary since his Premier League debut.
The Old Trafford striker grew up an Evertonian and made his debut in the league as a 16-year-old in the Toffees’ blue against Tottenham Hotspur on August 17, 2002; which signalling the beginning of an illustrious career for one of the most talented players in the world of his generation.
It is a decade that has been littered with many outstanding moments, some incidences best forgotten and not a little success.
So which moments from the England international’s career stand out the most? Which were his most memorable successes? GMF has gone through the Rooney timeline and picked the occasions that hold the greatest significance.
Here they are:
First Premier League goal v Arsenal, October 19, 2002
Arsene Wenger’s side were then champions and arrived at Goodison Park on an unbeaten streak that had lasted 30-games, but Rooney was about to bring all of that grinding to a halt.
The striker came on for Tomasz Radzinski with just ten minutes to go and the game tied at 1-1; he made his mark in the last minute when picking the ball up 25 yards out and curling an unstoppable shot past David Seaman into the corner to win the game.
England Debut v Australia, February 12, 2003
Rooney became the youngest player ever to play for England when he came on as one of 11 substitutions in the friendly at West Ham’s Upton Park, though this record was taken away from him by Arsenal’s Theo Walcott three years later.
A poor match that finished with a 3-1 win for the Aussies may have been unremarkable, but it signalled the beginning of him becoming the talisman of the side for the following nine years.
First England goal v Macedonia, September 6, 2003
Another record went to Rooney in what was a close Euro 2004 qualifier in Skopje, where he became the youngest ever goalscorer for the Three Lions at 17 years and 317 days.
Signs for Manchester United, 2004
Rooney became the most expensive teenager ever when Sir Alex Ferguson persuaded Everton to part with their starlet for the princely sum of £27million – an astonishing amount for a player who was only 18 years old at the time.
“I am very excited. I think we have got the best young player this country has seen in the past 30 years,” said Ferguson at the time.
Debut hat-trick for United, September 28, 2004
If the buzz surrounding Rooney was loud before he made his debut at Old Trafford, it was roaring once the final whistle was blown. In his first appearance wearing the Red Devils shirt, he scored a sublime hat-trick to lead Ferguson’s side to a 6-2 thrashing of Fenerbache in the Champions League.
First trophy, 2006
Rooney’s first taste of silverware came in the 2006 League Cup, where United mauled Wigan Athletic, who had surprisingly beaten Arsenal in the semi-final, in a 4-0 win.
Two goals in the game also earned Rooney the Man of the Match award.
First Premier League title, 2006-07
After a couple of seasons stuck in the shadow of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, Ferguson re-energised his side (not for the first time) and led a turnaround in fortunes to win the title for the first time in three years.
It would not be the last success Rooney would taste at Old Trafford, as he has won a further three Premier League titles.
Champions League winner 2008
In the middle of a period of English dominance in Europe, United added their third European Cup/Champions League trophy to complete a brilliant double with the League title.
A dramatic final in Moscow against fellow Premier League side Chelsea went all the way to penalties, where it the champions held their nerve best.
It is safe to say Rooney has had a successful career to date and there is not much left for him to win in club.
The one thing he has yet to experience is real success on the international stage, which does not look likely in the near future. However, if Rooney does stay on another decae - as he has said he intends to - then he could well be the legend that ushers in a new generation of England stars.
What is your favourite moment from Wayne Rooney’s career? Leave a comment below and let us know…