It’s fair to say that when Wayne Rooney left England and the Premier League after a fantastic career which saw him play for Manchester United and Everton and win trophies for United, one could have thought that Rooney’s next project would have been inspired by money and an easy life. But what the ex England international has done is actually open up a brand new chapter into his legacy in football. America love him.
And why wouldn’t the MLS love Rooney? Instead of playing out his days what Rooney did when he joined DC United is that he took it 100% seriously and this paid dividends. Firstly because the MLS is not a pushover league like it may have been a decade ago and secondly seeing the desire and passion in Rooney and his work rate attracted him to the hearts of the DC United fans. They have taken him in and he has become a local hero for the club.
Take last season when DC United were close to the bottom of the league as they waited on Rooney’s appearance. Once he played the team shot up the standings, the confidence grew and so did the wins. This is down to Rooney who has always been a great motivator.
Rooney scores goals too even at 33 he is showing no signs of slowing down and has bagged 23 goals from 40 games. What has been remarkable is that Rooney has had his own personal problems while in America. Settling down was one, and then he was arrested for being drunk last year- usually this could have meant the beginning of the end for a career in America, but Rooney has been able to sail through all of that and is showing the fans the goals.
Just last week Rooney scored a goal from inside his own half against Orlando some 70 yards out, and it was no fluke and this is the second time he has done this.
Rooney was evidently born to play football but with his success in America one can ask is he having a better impact than golden boy David Beckham? Both utter professionals of course but a little less is expected of Rooney who is delivering the goods week in and week out.
As for winning trophies in America, that is up in the air. Currently DC United are in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference and are just 1 point behind league leaders Philadelphia Union. They will make the play-offs that is for sure and they should be regarded with a fit Rooney on board as one of the favourites to claim the overall title.
Farewell, then, Wayne. You will be missed. Or perhaps not. It’s difficult to gauge how well the former Manchester United striker is remembered and liked by fans but whatever side of the debate you sit on, there’s only one incontrovertible conclusion to reach: Wayne Rooney had a good run. The man had a brilliant career in the Premier League, and as time washes away and we’re all turned to dust, history will be kind to his legacy.
In case you haven’t heard, Rooney left Everton this week after signing a three-and-a-half year deal with MLS side D.C. United, bringing to an end his 16-year career in the Premier League. It has been evident that at, 32, Rooney isn’t quite the force of nature he once was. The pace is gone and so is the explosiveness; that ability to bring fire and potent force to a game as he so desired. It’s the reason he was back at Everton last summer in the first place: he was no longer fit for purpose at a club of United’s ambition.
There’s a little sadness here, too. In the middle of a World Cup where Gareth Southgate’s England are winning hearts and putting points on the board, Rooney, a veteran of three largely doomed campaigns, departs quietly from centre stage to the worst side in MLS. It is the same World Cup where Cristiano Ronaldo, Rooney’s old mate and six months his senior, is shining brightly with four goals in three games.
But it would be uncharitable to view Rooney’s career solely through the lens of the latter years of his career, especially when the loss of pace is directly related to how he started his playing days like a house on fire. Rooney is not like most 32-year-olds in terms of his playing age. This is the man who took the game by surprise as a stocky 16-year-old with rage in his eyes and an incredible eye for goal. A man who scored a hat trick on his United debut. The goals and numbers bear witness to his greatness. 253 goals in 559 appearances for United, 28 in 118 for Everton and 53 in 119 for England. He is the record goalscorer for United and England, two of the most important institutions in world football. You do not achieve that by being a fraud. When Ronaldo was at his pomp during that glorious 2008/09 season, Rooney was the the dutiful teammate who willfully played out of position numerous times for the greater good.
As Rooney departs with no fanfare to the other side of the Atlantic, it should be remembered that when he was at his best, England had no answer to a player who could make magic happen all the while looking like your next door neighbour.