Wayne Rooney – 10 Years At The Top

It was a very fitting scenario as Wayne Rooney headed back to his root to celebrate 10 years as a Premier League when Manchester United took on Everton at Goodison Park last night.

It was there where Manchester United’s no.10 made his Premier League bow as a precocious 16-year-old in a 2-2 draw with Tottenham, lasting 66 minutes and setting up Mark Pembridge for Everton’s first goal. Since his debut, Rooney has appeared 444 for his club (Everton and Manchester United combined) and has scored 199 goals. The England star has also been capped 76 times by the Three Lions and has found the back of the net 29 times.

Here, IntoTheTopCorner picks out a great moment from each of the last 10 seasons.

2002-2003 – DEBUT AND A STUNNER

Rooney announced himself on to the biggest stage with this famous last-minute strike against Arsenal, which ended the then Champions – Arsenal’s 30-match unbeaten run and made him the youngest Premier League goalscorer.  Aged just 16, it came two months after his senior debut in a 2-2 draw with Tottenham and dynamited any efforts by Everton to keep their bright talent under wraps. The secret was out and a star was born.

2003-2004 – ENGLAND DEBUT, FIRST GOAL AND FINAL SEASON

It didn’t take long for England to come calling and Sven Goran Eriksson handed Rooney, his first cap in the friendly defeat against Australia. Rooney became youngest ever player to play for England. Another record went to Rooney in the same year, as he became the youngest ever goalscorer for the Three Lions at 17 years and 317 days against Macedonia. With England’s biggest clubs chasing his signature, it would be Rooney’s last season at Everton. He scored nine goals in 2003-2004.

2004-2005 – UNITED’S NEW SIGNING AND DREAM DEBUT

In the summer of 2004, Rooney turned down a new three-year, £14,000-a-week contract with Everton and Manchester United stepped in. Rooney, 18, was on his way to Old Trafford for £25.6m, the highest fee paid for a player under 20. He had a dream debut at the Theatre of Dreams, scoring a hat-trick in a Champions League tie with Fenerbahce. United endured a poor season, finishing third in the league – their lowest ever Premier League finish – and were dumped out of Europe by AC Milan. But Rooney’s goals offered optimism for the future.

2005-2006 – FIRST SILVERWARE

Rooney finished 2004-2005 as the PFA Young Player of the Year, but the following year was largely one of disappointment as United remained a team in transition. He won his first trophy – the League Cup – after scoring twice in a 4-0 win over Wigan, but United were a long way short of Chelsea in the league and crashed out of Europe in the group stages. But despite a broken metatarsal which curtailed his season, Rooney managed an impressive 16 goals in the season.

2006-2007 – LEAGUE CHAMPION

After a disappointing World Cup in Germany, United bounced back the following season, with Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo providing the spark in another great Alex Ferguson side. He scored 14 league goals and was rewarded with a winner’s medal as United ended Chelsea’s brief spell of dominance. They were also a force in Europe, but were destined to fall just short. Rooney’s two goals in the first leg of the semi-final with Milan gave United a narrow 3-2 advantage, only for the Italians to walk the second leg 3-0.

2007-2008 – BEST IN THE WORLD

United dominated in the Premier League and the Champions League, with the partnership between Rooney and Ronaldo flourishing with almost each and every game. Rooney finished the season with 18 goals, 12 of them in the league and six in other competitions.

2008-2009 – LEAGUE CHAMPION AGAIN AND 20 GOAL MAN

United again went on to win the Premier League title in 2009, their third in a row, but a second consecutive European success was beyond them as Barcelona won the Champions League final in Rome. Rooney hit 20 goals across all competitions, including 12 in the league once more.

2009-2010 – UNITED’S MAIN MAN

This campaign was Rooney’s best yet – he scored 34 goals in all competitions, including 26 in the league and five in Europe – though United would end up with just the League Cup. He was at his brilliant best in United’s demolition of AC Milan in the Champions League second round. In the San Siro, he scored two brilliantly-placed headers as United won 3-2.Another two followed to settle the tie at Old Trafford in a 4-0 rout – a header and a great finish in a one-on-one. He also scored in the Allianz Arena against Bayern Munich in the next round but an ankle injury ruined his – and United’s – hopes of silverware.

2010-2011 – UPS AND DOWN

Rooney returned to action after a poor World Cup with England and stunned the football world in October by saying he wanted to leave United. After a lot of negotiations and compromises, the club persuaded him to sign a new five-year contract on significantly better wages. His future assured, Rooney finally settled into the season – his goals guiding United to a 19th title and the Champions League final, where they were again second best to Barcelona. Arguably the greatest Rooney moment came with a bicycle kick against Manchester City, a goal that won the Best Goal of 20 Season Award.

2011-2012 – AT THE PEAK

Rooney started the season as he wanted to, with a goal on the opening day. It was the first of 27 in the Premier League and 35 in all as he discovered the finest form of his career. In a blistering start to the season, United were goal crazy and Rooney was exceptional in the 8-2 win against Arsenal, scoring two free-kicks and a penalty. But the season didn’t go his own way – United failed to win a trophy and went through the trauma of City snatching the title with the last kick of the season.

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