Wayne Rooney’s illustrious career will continue in the United States after his move to DC United was finally confirmed on Thursday.
After a solitary season back at Everton, the former England international has signed a three-and-a-half-year deal to join the MLS side as a designated franchise player, becoming the latest big name from the Premier League to head stateside.
The 32-year-old burst onto the scene as a teenager with his boyhood club before going on to become Manchester United’s all-time leading scorer, managing 253 goals in 559 appearances in all competitions.
His 13-year stay at United – which included winning the Premier League, Champions League and both domestic cups – ended in 2017 when he returned to Goodison Park, giving him the opportunity to play again for the team where it all began.
From an unforgettable debut to a long-range lob via a moment of Manchester derby magic, we take a look back at Rooney’s top 10 goals during his club career in England.
Arsenal (H): October 19, 2002
Talk about making an instant impact. A fresh-faced Rooney, wearing a shirt appearing to be several sizes too big, scored his maiden league goal in stunning fashion for Everton – and against England’s first-choice goalkeeper at the time, too.
Arsenal had arrived at Goodison Park on a 30-game unbeaten run in the Premier League but came unstuck against the Toffees due to a moment of brilliance, as a 16-year-old substitute turned a hopeful punt forward from Thomas Gravesen into one of the most memorable moments in the competition’s history.
Rooney controlled the ball on the left, spun around quickly and then, after taking the opportunity to line up the target, arched a curling shot beyond David Seaman that found the net via the underside of the bar.
Fenerbahce (H): September 28, 2004
If United fans were unsure if an 18-year-old Rooney was worth a reported £25.6million outlay, a hat-trick on his Old Trafford debut went some way to quieten the doubters.
Rooney opened the scoring in the match – a Champions League group game against Fenerbahce – with a well-taken first-time finish, before doubling his tally with a clever turn and precise shot before half-time.
The pick of the goals, however, came in the second half. After wrestling the ball away from more established stars including Ryan Giggs, Rooney set himself before bending a 20-yard free-kick over the wall and beyond Rustu Recber, sending the home fans into raptures.
Middlesbrough (H): January 29, 2005
Rooney boasts two candidates in a list of his top United goals from this 3-0 FA Cup victory, and his stunning volley in the closing stages of the match came close to making the cut here.
However, the place must be reserved for a moment of magic on 67 minutes. Gary Neville slid a pass through to Rooney on the break, and, some 40 yards from goal, he chipped the ball up and over the stranded Mark Schwarzer and into the back of the net.
United went on to reach the final – Rooney’s first – where they lost on penalties to Arsenal.
Newcastle United (H): April 24, 2005
Often criticised for moments of petulance, especially early in his career, it paid off for Rooney in spades against Newcastle.
United, behind to a Darren Ambrose goal and struggling for fluidity, were becoming increasingly frustrated in their search for an equaliser as the Old Trafford crowd made its feelings clear.
Rooney’s own irritation threatened to boil over as he berated referee Neale Barry, but he immediately turned that anger onto the football itself as he blasted in a volley beyond Shay Given after Peter Ramage’s header looked to have cleared the danger.
United went on to win 2-1 thanks to a Wes Brown goal.
Portsmouth (H): January 27, 2007
Luck seemed to be against United in this FA Cup clash at Old Trafford, especially when Nemanja Vidic and Henrik Larsson both had goals controversially ruled out and visiting goalkeeper David James produced a string of good saves.
It was Rooney, however, who turned the game on its head with two goals in the final 13 minutes – the second of which was a moment of magic.
Having tapped in Giggs’ cross to give United the lead six minutes earlier, Rooney collected the ball 25 yards from goal and sent a stunning chip over James and into the far corner.
Manager Alex Ferguson hailed Rooney’s sheer audacity for attempting the effort, comparing it to Eric Cantona’s famous strike against Sunderland 11 years previous. Around Old Trafford, praise doesn’t get much higher than that.
Bolton (H): March 17, 2007
Rooney had gone four games without a goal before he struck a double in a 4-1 win over Bolton Wanderers – a result that went a long way towards securing his first Premier League title.
He blasted in a fine finish late in the match, but it was his first – his 50th in United colours – that would live long in the memory, not least because of the man who set him up.
Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo’s partnership in the United attack was beginning to flourish in the year after their infamous confrontation at the World Cup, and this goal underlined the devastating speed and skill with which they could torment their opponents.
A promising long-throw for Bolton into the United penalty area was cleared to Ronaldo, who exchanged disguised passes with Rooney before bursting into the visitors’ half and slipping the ball through to his team-mate, who chipped over Jussi Jaaskelainen and into the net.
It took just 12 seconds for the ball to reach the Bolton net from United’s clearance, and the goal was later nominated for the best in the division for that season.
Manchester City (H): February 12, 2011
Described by United prodigy Marcus Rashford as the best goal he has ever seen, Rooney’s strike to secure a 2-1 win over Manchester City was as important as it was spectacular.
David Silva’s deflected shot had cancelled out Nani’s opener in a tense derby at Old Trafford but, with only 12 minutes remaining, Rooney produced a moment of magic to snatch the victory and send his side four points clear of Arsenal at the top of the table.
Nani’s cross from the right took a deflection, and Rooney, adjusting his body position on the edge of the area, met the ball with a sensational bicycle kick to send it crashing past Joe Hart and into the top corner.
The goal, which was named as the greatest in Premier League history in 2012, took United a step closer to their 19th top-flight title.
West Ham (A): March 22, 2014
There were certainly not many moments to shout about for United during David Moyes’ single season in charge, but Rooney’s goal away to West Ham drew plenty of superlatives.
Ashley Young cleared the ball to just inside the Hammers’ half, where Rooney, having outmuscled James Tomkins, unleashed an incredible half-volley that flew over the head of Adrian and into the net.
The goal was compared to David Beckham’s audacious halfway-line lob of Wimbledon goalkeeper Neil Sullivan, which had brought Selhurst Park to its feet 18 years earlier. Beckham was even in the stands at Upton Park to witness Rooney’s moment of genius.
The strike moved Rooney to third in United’s all-time scoring list, behind only Bobby Charlton and Dennis Law, but it did little to brighten the mood at Old Trafford during a dismal campaign. Indeed, Moyes was sacked exactly one month later.
Stoke City (A): January 21, 2017
Rooney came off the bench after 67 minutes in place of Juan Mata and made a late impact.
It appeared to be an afternoon of frustration for Jose Mourinho’s men, who dominated at the bet365 Stadium, only for the 31-year-old to grab a 94th-minute equaliser in stunning fashion and put his name in lights.
Rooney lined up a free-kick on the left of the area and, with Stoke goalkeeper Lee Grant perhaps expecting a cross, whipped a stunning set-piece into the top corner.
West Ham (H): November 29, 2017
“It was a no-brainer for me and the only place I was going to go,” Rooney said after sealing his return to Everton, 13 years after an acrimonious departure.
The comeback did not quite go according to the script – Everton’s grand plans to push for the top six quickly fell apart, with manager Ronald Koeman departing early in the campaign – but Rooney still made it to double figures, scoring 10 goals despite often occupying a deeper role.
The best of the lot completed a hat-trick against West Ham at Goodison Park, as the experienced forward intercepted Joe Hart’s clearance before lobbing the ball over the head of the stranded goalkeeper and into the unguarded net. The perfectly weighted strike, made from inside his own half, was a reminder of how, even while no longer in his prime, he was still able to produce magical moments.