football

Gone But Not Forgotten: Wayne Rooney’s Best United Moments

July 17, 2017

- Grant Whittington

Few players can boast of a trophy cabinet to rival that of Wayne Rooney’s and therefore it seems absurd to label the 31-year-old an underachiever following his return to Everton on a two-year contract after a stellar 13-year stint at Old Trafford.

At club level, he has captured every honour available at English, Continental and European football with the European Super Cup the only piece of silverware absent from his impressive collection.  Rather ironically, if he had remained a Red, the chance to add this missing morsel to his incomplete jigsaw would have arrived with Manchester United gunning for the trophy when they attempt to overcome back-to-back UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid next month.

‘Wazza’ may have never reached the superhuman heights of Lionel Messi or former team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo which many of us anticipated when he burst onto the scene as a childhood prodigy at just 16 years of age with a wonder goal for the Toffees against Arsenal, but he can look back on his career with his head held high.

No matter what portrayal we have of the current England captain, he is now out his own as record goalscorer for United and his country, thus sealing his immortality by powering past the towering numbers posted by the legendary Sir Bobby Charlton.

There can be no doubting that this boy from Coxteth, Liverpool has turned out to be quite the player, so we have decided to take a look back at some of his finest moments representing the red half of Manchester.

Debut Hat-Trick

The £26.8m forked out by Six Alex Ferguson to secure the signature of Rooney seemed a snip following the youngster’s unforgettable debut back in 2004 against Fenebahce in the Champions League. His stunning, fairytale hat-trick in a 6-2 victory confirmed to the world that a genuine football superstar had arrived. Fenerbahce’s boss Christoph Daum even quipped: “Maybe he will become the player of the century.”

No Longer Invincible

Less than thirty days later, the striker proved to be instrumental in ending Arsenal’s incredible 49-game unbeaten run as Arsene Wenger took his championship side to Old Trafford.

United’s number 10 celebrated his 19th birthday in style by winning a controversial penalty and then getting on the scoresheet later himself to clinch three crucial points and spark scenes of jubilation.

Sensational Volley

Rooney had cut a frustrated figure for nearly an hour prior to his unbelievable volley which inspired a 2-1 victory over Newcastle United and in the process keep up the pressure on Arsenal in the race for second place.

After becoming engulfed in a fiery exchange with the referee, a visibly infuriated Rooney capitalised on a weak clearance from Peter Ramage and unleashed a thunderbolt past a helpless Shay Given into the roof of the net.

Personal Best Campaign

Even though United lost their grip on the Premier League trophy following three consecutive triumphs, the 2009/10 season proved to be a successful one on a personal level for Rooney. He finished with a career-best tally of 34 goals, which included a stoppage time winner against arch-rivals Manchester City and a header in the League Cup final which saw Aston Villa put to the sword. Rooney would also be rewarded with the coveted PFA player of the year award.

The Greatest Premier League Goal?

Arguably the greatest moment in Rooney’s United career and unquestionably one of the greatest strikes in Premier League history, if not the greatest.  This spectacular bicycle kick against ‘noisy neighbours’ City guaranteed him a place in United and Premier League folklore.

8-2 Thrashing Of Arsenal

This encounter in 2011 produced one of the most famous results since the inauguration of the Premier League as United ran riot at Old Trafford against a shell-shocked Arsenal. An imperious Rooney netted a fine hat-trick in this demolition job and left Arsene Wenger’s reputation in tatters.

Another Rooney Special

The England forward embraced his inner Beckham with another virtuoso strike – this time from inside his own-half as he bamboozled Adrian in the West Ham goal with this audacious attempt. ‘Golden Balls’ was actually in attendance that day and he had nothing but admiration for this moment of sheer brilliance.

Century of Assists

Rooney becomes only the third player to achieve 100 Premier League assists during United’s 3-1 win over Swansea City.

Record-Breaker

A sublime stoppage time free-kick salvaged a point for United at the Britannia stadium and gave him his 250th United goal, therefore surpassing the goal tally of Charlton in what has turned out to be his swansong for the Red Devils.

Could his £75 million replacement Romelu Lukaku be the difference-maker in Jose Mourinho’s Premier League quest? Manchester United’s odds for the title can be found here.

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