It’s fair to say that Wayne Rooney isn’t quite the same player he was when he burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old.
He might be back at the same club but a lot has happened in those 16 years.
He’s become the record goalscorer for both England and Manchester United before returning to Everton where it all began.
And while most players have to change the way they play the game as they get older, Rooney has actually changed position.
He’s no longer the prolific centre-forward but is now seen operating from a slightly deeper position in midfield.
There’s no more chasing down defenders for 90 minutes and he certainly won’t be making too many lung-bursting runs to get into the opposition box.
In fact, he’s learned to play a more controlling midfielder role from three world-class players.
ROONEY REVEALS WHO HE'S WATCHED
In an interview with Jamie Carragher in the Telegraph, Rooney has revealed the three players he’s watched closely in order to learn his new position.
“I always knew at the back end of my career I would drop back into midfield,” Rooney admitted.
“I started watching Paul Scholes closely in training. Analysed Xabi Alonso and Toni Kroos. They don’t go around sprinting the whole game, getting in peoples’ faces. They are players who control a tempo of a game. I knew I could go into that role and I believed in my own ability to do it. I still feel I have more to give if playing that right way.
“Playing deeper suits me. I can get on the ball a bit more and have lads around me with more legs. I am the one who can get us playing and moving the ball. From a personal perspective, I think I can score more and get to 15 goals. But I have never been a player just happy because I am scoring. I want to help the team. If the team is not doing well I can’t take positives from my own performance.”
So Rooney has taken aspects of Scholes, Alonso and Kroos game as he hopes to dictate matches as he gets older.
He may not be able to run as far - or fast - as he used to but with Rooney in his deeper role, there’s no reason he can’t continue playing deep into his thirties.
As long as there’s plenty of teammates around him willing to do his running for him…News Now - Sport News