It’s hard to think of the Premier League without Wayne Rooney, who ten years ago today burst onto the scene as a teenager with ‘that goal’ against Arsenal.
Commentator Clive Tyldesley uttered the line ‘remember the name’ as Everton shocked the Gunners 2-1, and the 26-year-old certainly hasn’t disappointed after that defining moment at such an early stage in his career.
Rooney’s decade in the Premier League has certainly been a memorable one – read his own version of events in the book! Click here to find out more: http://amzn.to/R7XHr2
There was certainly no lack of hype around the young Rooney, who was earning rave reviews with the Toffees academy, scoring goals for fun on the way to an FA Youth Cup final in 2002 after years of doing the same at junior level.
First team recognition came at the age of 16, with Rooney’s debut ending in a 2-2 draw against Tottenham Hotspur on August 17th. A first senior goal came two months later, with the young pretender bagging a League Cup brace against Wrexham.
However, it was the goal against Arsene Wenger’s side – unbeaten in 30 matches – which really brought Rooney to wider public attention.
Introduced by David Moyes with 80 minutes on the clock, Rooney controlled Thomas Gravesen’s hopeful hoof instantly before taking two touches to set himself. What followed was an unstoppable strike, curling into David Seaman’s top right corner as the pony-tailed veteran grasped at thin air. Cue delirium at Goodison Park as the ball cannoned in off the crossbar.
"We were beaten by a special goal and a special talent. You do not have to be a connoisseur to realise that Rooney has intelligence, quick reactions and accuracy in front of goal. He is a big prospect for English football," noted Wenger in the immediate aftermath of his side’s defeat.
The meteoric rise to prominence saw Rooney win the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year at the end of 2002, and a first England cap followed in February the following year.
Rooney was very much on the road to success, and in two seasons under Moyes the striker would score 15 Premier League goals and sign his first professional contract.
Despite his obvious commitment to the club, a £25.6 million offer from Manchester United was judged as too good to turn down by Everton, and the 18-year-old would take the number 8 shirt at Old Trafford in the summer of 2004.
The player’s market value was certainly helped by a stellar showing at Euro 2004, where Rooney produced inspired performances against Switzerland and Croatia. However, injury against Portugal coincided with a quarter-final exit on penalties.
His debut came in September of the same year, and a hat-trick against Fenerbache meant Rooney marked the occasion in a very special manor. He remains the youngest player to score three goals in a game in the Champions League.
Domestically, Rooney hit double figures in the league for the first time in his career - a feat he would match for eight consecutive seasons, including last term’s tally of 27.
A career littered with highlights, the striker lifted his first trophy in 2006 following a 4-0 League Cup final against Wigan, although injury against Chelsea towards the end of the season hampered his efforts at the 2006 World Cup with the Three Lions.
Premier League glory was next on the agenda, as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side won the first of three consecutive titles.
It was the 2007-08 season that brought Rooney a Champions League winners medal however, and despite a number of injuries during the campaign, the England man still notched 18 goals in all competitions. The ‘holy trinity’ of Rooney, Ronaldo and Tevez brought European glory back to Old Trafford.
A 100th Manchester United goal came at the start of the 09-10 season – a year Rooney would score 34 goals in all competitions. He also lifted the League Cup for a second time, although international glory would again elude the Three Lions with a World Cup knockout defeat to Germany in South Africa.
The following season, Rooney scored one of the all-time great Premier League goals against Manchester City, producing a sublime overhead kick in the 78th minute to win the derby. Despite not being his best year for goals individually, he was again influential for the Red Devils as they lifted another title.
Last season’s effort brought another handful of landmarks for the striker, most notably making a 500th senior appearance in February. He’s also moved up to fourth on the all-time goalscoring table at Manchester United, with just Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and Jack Rowley ahead of him.
It’s team accolades rather than individual honours which appeals most to Rooney however, and he’ll be aiming for more success both domestically and in Europe in the years to come.