LONDON: Former Manchester United and England star Wayne Rooney ended his illustrious playing career on Friday to take up the job of managing Championship side Derby on a full-time basis. Derby confirmed Rooney, 35, has agreed a permanent deal until 2023, having succeeded Phillip Cocu on an interim basis in November.
In accepting the manager’s role, Derby said the iconic forward had “elected to call time on his illustrious playing career to fully focus on his job”. Rooney was in charge for nine matches as interim boss at Derby, winning three and drawing four.
“We are delighted to confirm the appointment of Wayne Rooney as our new manager,” said Derby County chief executive officer Stephen Pearce. “Our recent upturn in results under Wayne was married together with some positive performances.”
Rooney said he had been “blown away” by Derby’s potential when he arrived at the club after a spell playing for DC United in the United States. “To be given the opportunity to follow the likes of Brian Clough, Jim Smith, Frank Lampard and Phillip Cocu is such an honor,” he said. “And I can promise everyone involved in the club and all our fans, my staff and I will leave no stone unturned in achieving the potential I have witnessed over the last 12 months of this historic football club.”
Rooney, who captained Manchester United and England, hangs up his boots as the all-time leading goalscorer for United and his country. He is also the second-highest goalscorer in Premier League history — behind only Alan Shearer — with 208 goals.
His retirement was instantly recognised by the England official Twitter account, which posted: “A #ThreeLions legend. Congratulations on a fantastic playing career, @WayneRooney! Wishing you all the best in management.”
Alex Ferguson, who signed Rooney for United, said: “He is England’s top goalscorer, he is Manchester United’s top goalscorer and he has had a fantastic career as a player. It will give him a starting point. But like anyone else it is a results industry. He will know that better than anyone. It is a big step for him. He is quite a wealthy young man now, so he probably doesn’t need to go into management, but he wants to do it and that is important. Hopefully he does well.”
Rooney made his debut for boyhood club Everton in 2002 and shot to prominence by scoring a sensational goal to beat then-champions Arsenal days before his 17th birthday. After an impressive showing for England at Euro 2004 he was signed by United in a £27 million ($37 million) transfer.
Rooney soon started paying that fee back, scoring a hat-trick on his debut in the Champions League against Fenerbahce. A potent combination of poise and power made Rooney a lethal goal threat before he finished his career showcasing his more cerebral side in a deeper role. Capable of predatory finishes and spectacular strikes in equal measure, Rooney was one of the world’s best forwards during his prime years. He broke Bobby Charlton’s long-standing record of 249 goals in January 2017, going on to reach 253 goals in total for the Old Trafford club.
Rooney won five Premier League titles and a Champions League medal with Ferguson at the helm and captained the club to FA Cup glory under Louis van Gaal in 2016. He played 120 matches and scored 53 goals for England, appearing for the final time against the United States in 2018.
The forward rejoined Everton from United in 2017 but was at Goodison Park for just a year before moving to MLS side DC United. Rooney moved to Derby in January 2020 as a player-coach and took caretaker charge when Cocu was sacked. Derby are currently in the Championship relegation zone but are level on 19 points with Sheffield Wednesday, in 21st place. – AFP