Wayne Rooney is in line to wear to pull on an Everton shirt for the first time since 2004 as he returns to the Goodison Park home dressing room for Duncan Ferguson’s testimonial.
The boyhood Everton fan left the club in 2004 in a £26 million deal that saw him join Manchester United, but has never hidden his feeling for the club since his departure.
Rooney played alongside Ferguson when he broke into the team as a 16-year-old and has claimed that the Everton legend was a hero of his growing up.
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Rooney confirmed the news on his official Facebook page and will play a cameo role in the game that takes place on August 2 against Villarreal, six days before United’s season kicks-off at home, against Tottenham Hotspur.
The Manchester United and England captain made 67 league appearances for the Toffees, scoring 15 goal before moving to Old Trafford and the chance to honour his ex-teammate proved irresistible.
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In a statement on his official page Rooney said: “I am pleased to say that I will make an appearance to support one of my footballing heroes.
“As a young player at the club he was an inspiration and when I broke into the first team he helped and looked after me. I can't think of a better way to thank him for all his help at the beginning of my career.
“If he hadn’t asked me I would have gone and supported him on the day as I am sure most other Evertonians will!”
Since leaving Goodison Park, Rooney's relationship has become somewhat strained with the club. His decision to kiss the Manchester United badge against Everton is a primary cause of this breakdown.
The 28-year-old’s time at Everton is remembered primarily for his stunning goal against Arsenal that clinched a 2-1 victory against Arsene Wenger’s men and ended their 30-game unbeaten run in the Premier League.
Rooney has gone some way to achieving legendary status at Manchester United. He has scored 170 goals in 340 league appearances, an average of a goal every other game and has helped the club to five Premier League titles, two league cups and a Champions League success. He was also handed the captain's armband by Louis van Gaal last summer.
Having enjoyed two playing spells at Everton, Ferguson is now a first team coach and, reported by the Daily Mail, said on Rooney’s appearance: “I'm absolutely delighted that the wee man has agreed to play in the game.
“Everybody knows that we go way back. I knew him as a kid, he's a top man and I'm proud as his friend that he's fulfilled the potential we always knew was there.
'Wayne's a world-class player and I'm genuinely thrilled that he will play on the day, just as I'm so grateful to the Club for putting on this game.”