Wayne Rooney has admitted his decision to leave Everton and join Manchester United in 2004 was more difficult than fans appreciate.
The Red Devils made Rooney the most expensive teenager in history after agreeing to pay £27million to sign him from their Premier League rivals.
By then the 18-year-old had already built himself a reputation as the game's most exciting prospect. He had scored four goals in the recent Euro 2004 for England, finishing just one strike behind golden boot winner Milan Baros.
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But underneath the hype and hysteria, there was still a teenager who had never known much different from his humble background on Merseyside.
Rooney, now 29, admits the decision to leave his hometown for Old Trafford was hard and only the thought of learning from the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson convinced him.
"I don’t think people appreciate how difficult it was for me to make the decision to leave Everton at such an early stage in my career," he said in an interview on his website.
"But my desire to improve and become the best player I could be even at such a young age meant I could not turn down the opportunity to work with and alongside the person that I thought – and still think - was one of the greatest managers to have ever served the game."
Opinion is still split on whether Rooney has fulfilled his massive potential. His cause is hardly helped by the emergence of both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who, for most of the last decade, have fought for the 'best in the world' tag between themselves.
But Rooney will finish his career as England's all-time top goalscorer and will most likely overhaul Sir Bobby Charlton to the same title at Manchester United. He is also deemed important enough at United to be paid £300,000-a-week.
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