Wayne Rooney is the poster boy for English football. Not only is he captain and linchpin of the national side and Manchester United, the most popular and successful Premier League team; he is also a classic English footballer. He has a, what some would say, stocky build to go with a pit-bull like tenacity, which gives him the strength and perseverance to cause problems for opponents in every area of the pitch and on both sides of the ball. Not only this, but Rooney is also a highly intelligent and talented player, who will use his guile to help his team in any way he can.
Over the years he has done this in many different ways and to great success, and this is evident through the different positions he has been asked to play for club and country. He has spent a large part of his illustrious career leading the line as a striker, but over the years he has also played in the hole behind the striker, and we are now used to seeing him as a box to box midfielder. He has flourished in each of these roles, either by beautifully setting up teammates with his incredible passing ability and extraordinary vision to read the game, or by pouring in the goals himself. He is one of the greatest modern day goalscorers who has proven over the years that he can score in any number of different ways and from a range of different areas.
In the past decade, we have also witnessed the growth and development of 29-year-old Rooney as a person as well as a footballer. He has been in the public eye from a very young age when he played as a youngster for Everton, before famously moving to United in the summer of 2004. He has inevitably had his ups and downs in this time, but nobody can deny his passion, determination and skill, which has seen him become one of the greatest players of his generation.
Here are 15 interesting facts about the England and Red Devils star.
15 His path to stardom started at the age of 9
At the age of 9, a very young Wayne Rooney with a head full of hair was already dominating on the pitch. He had bagged 99 goals for his local junior team, which understandably caught the attention of a scout from Everton, his favourite team growing up. He joined their school of excellence, and it is here that he developed into the superstar that he is today. He scored 8 goals in 8 games in their F.A Youth Cup run, and it was not long before he was called up to make his Premier League debut.
14 He met his wife, Coleen, at secondary school
It is common to see the most successful footballers change partners as often as Premier League teams change managers, so it is refreshing to see that one of football's brightest stars is married to his high school sweetheart. Wayne first met Coleen in the Liverpool suburb of Croxteth, and they began dating at the age of 16. The pair married in 2008, and now have two young sons together, Kai and Klay. This means that like Wayne, Coleen has spent a large part of her life in the limelight, and she is seen as one of the most popular and recognizable WAGs around the world.
13 He uses his profile to help those less fortunate
Wayne Rooney is one of the richest footballers and also one of the most recognizable athletes in the world. He may have his own fleet of luxury cars and expensive taste, but he also uses his money and profile to help those in need. Over the years he has been an active supporter of the Willow Foundation which organizes special days for the seriously ill, Claire House which is a children's hospice, and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. In 2006 he also became a FIFA for SOS Children’s Villages ambassador, helping to support kids in South Africa who have no families to look after them.
12 His brother, John Rooney, is also a skilled footballer
Wayne’s younger brother John Rooney, 23, has also proven himself to be a talent. Although he has not reached the lofty heights that his older brother has, he has still enjoyed some success playing at teams including Macclesfield, Barnsley, Bury and Chester (where he is now). He has also played in the MLS with the New York Red Bulls, playing alongside Thierry Henry and facing off against David Beckham. Although performing well at Chester, his team was recently knocked out the F.A Cup which ends any hope of the two brothers facing off against one another in what would be a fascinating game.
11 He made his Premier League debut at just 16 years old
On the opening day of the 2002-03 campaign, a fresh faced Wayne Rooney played his very first Premier League game for Everton against Spurs. He came through the academy and proved that he was ready to play for the Toffee’s first team, and stepped onto the pitch at just 16 years old. It is rare to see such a young player get an opportunity like this, and it did not take Rooney long to show that he was capable of greatness. Early in the campaign, Rooney scored a sensational 25-yard goal which ended Arsenal’s 30 match unbeaten run. Rooney was too young to sign a professional contract at the time.
10 He is England’s youngest ever goalscorer
Wayne Rooney has been at the heart of the England team for many years now, and although he may not have had much success in this time, he has an impressive amount of personal accolades. In a match against Macedonia in 2003, Rooney found the back of the net at the age of 17 years and 317 days, making him England’s youngest ever goalscorer. He now has an impressive 46 international goals to his name, and is just four from becoming England’s leading goalscorer, a record currently held by Sir Bobby Charlton. Although an impressive tally, Rooney has scored just once at the World Cup which has caused many to question his greatness as an England player.
9 He is a devout Catholic
Rooney is a devout Catholic, and this goes back to his youth where he attended Catholic school. His wife Coleen and her family are also devout Catholics, so it has been an important part of his life. Rooney has stated that he will often pray before games in the physio room, praying for the health of himself and everyone on the pitch. He also recently visited his old Catholic Primary school in Liverpool, where he was greeted by 99 pupils wearing England shirts to celebrate him winning his 100th cap for the national team.
8 He has a number of tattoos
Rooney, like many professional athletes, has a number of tattoos on his body. Many of these are often covered up by his kit, so not many people have seen his ink or know the story behind his tattoos. He has “just enough education to perform” on his forearm, an album title of the Stereophonics and a possible reference to Rooney not taking any GCSEs. He also has “English and Proud” along with a St. George’s flag on his shoulder, which demonstrates his patriotism, and praying hands on his back and a Celtic cross on his arm which allude to his faith.
7 He almost quit football when he was 14
Rooney’s love for football is evident anytime you watch him play, but there was a time when he was about 14 that he considered packing it all in. He found himself no longer enjoying the game, as it was about this time that he was being told to do things that he did not want to do. A discussion with the former Everton club boss Colin Harvey helped him fall back in love with the game, and it was from this moment that a young Rooney decided this is what he wanted to be doing. He stopped training for boxing, another one of his passions, and committed fully to football.
6 He had a hair transplant at 25
Those that have followed Rooney’s career will have noticed a strange change in his hair over the years, and this is because he had a hair transplant in 2011. His hair was noticeably receding even as a youngster at Everton, so it baffled many when he took to the pitch with a full head of hair. He has since had a second hair transplant, but his battle with his receding hair continues to this day and the thickness seems to change game by game.
5 He was sued by his former boss David Moyes
Rooney’s departure from Goodison Park was not the smoothest, which is why he will often have a frosty reception when he returns to his boyhood team. In his book, My Story So Far, claims were made that Moyes betrayed Rooney’s trust and essentially forced him into the move to Manchester United. Moyes named the publisher, ghost writer and Rooney in a libel writ, with an out of court settlement being reached in 2008. Rooney would play under Moyes again when he took charge of United following Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure, but despite the hatchet being buried, it proved to be an unsuccessful period for all parties.
4 He won the Premier League Goal of 20 Seasons Award
To celebrate the end of the 20th Premier League season in 2012, an enormous poll was conducted to find the greatest goal in the 20 seasons. Rooney’s sensational overhead kick against Man City topped the pack, beating the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Alan Shearer, David Beckham and many other Premier League legends. This has become an iconic goal and is a fantastic demonstration of Rooney’s technical skill, audacity, physical ability and vision.
3 He scored a stunning hat-trick in his Manchester United debut
Rooney made a famous move from Everton to Manchester United in the summer of 2004 for £25.6 million, a huge sum for a player who was just 18 years old. Many players would buckle under such immense pressure when asked to play for a prestigious club like United, but not Rooney. On his debut for the club against Fenerbahce, he scored a sensational hat-trick and set up a goal in a 6-2 thrashing of the Turkish side. This goes down as one of the greatest debut performances of all time and it was a sign of the great things to come for Rooney and Manchester United.
2 He has won 12 trophies in 10 years at United
There are not many players in the Premier League that have lifted a trophy more than Rooney has, who has helped the Red Devils become one of the most successful teams around the world. During his time at United he has played a key role in helping them to an incredible five Premier League titles, two League Cups, three Community Shields, a FIFA Club World Cup and a memorable Champions League title. He has of course had a huge amount of help along the way, playing alongside legendary players like Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo, Michael Owen, Dimitar Berbatov and Robin Van Persie just to name a few. It of course helped that he was also playing under Sir Alex Ferguson, one of the greatest managers of all time.
1 He is 1 of only 4 players to score 200 goals for Manchester United
Manchester United is one of the greatest and most successful clubs in the world, and they are also instantly recognizable and have an enormous fan base around the globe. Rooney stands as one of the all time greats for this prestigious club, as he is just one of four players to score 200 goals for the club. He currently sits 3rd on their all-time scoring list with 224, with Denis Law just ahead on 237 and Sir Bobby Charlton leading the pack with 249. Rooney has been much more than just a goalscorer for the Red Devils, but there is a good chance that he could become the all-time leading scorer as he continues to find the back of the net no matter what position he plays.