MANCHESTER, England (AP) — First Tom Brady, and now Wayne Rooney. English soccer club Birmingham seems to be collecting sporting icons.
Rooney, a Manchester United great who previously held the record for most goals for England’s national team, was appointed manager of the second-division team on Wednesday — only weeks after Brady came onboard as a minority owner.
Brady, a seven-time Super Bowl champion, also holds a position as advisory board chair, but it is not clear how much of role he played in the decision to hire one of the biggest names in English soccer.
“Wayne is a born winner,” Birmingham co-owner and chairman Tom Wagner said. “We believe, with the support of his coaching staff, the club, and our supporters, he will take Blues forward on the next stage of our journey. His playing philosophy will help to realize the ambitions we have set for Birmingham City.
“Wayne has been preparing for an opportunity like this since he embarked on his coaching education whilst still a player at Manchester United.”
Rooney’s appointment comes days after he left his position as coach of MLS team D.C. United on Sunday.
“My job is to elevate the club to the next level and I can’t wait to get started,” the 37-year-old Rooney said after signing a three-and-a-half-year contract. “I know what the expectations are and our job is to deliver.”
Birmingham last played in the Premier League in 2011 and is currently in sixth place in the second division. The club parted ways with former manager John Eustace on Monday, leading to some criticism on social media.
Rooney was manager of English club Derby from 2020-22. He then spent a season in MLS with D.C. United.
In a stellar playing career, Rooney won five Premier League titles and the Champions League with United, along with a host of other trophies. He is United’s all-time leading scorer with 253 goals and was England’s leading scorer until being surpassed by Harry Kane this year.
Rooney has been clear in his ambition to have a successful coaching career as well.
“I have been building my managerial career, putting myself in challenging environments, to get me ready for this opportunity,” he said. “It’s a project that gives me a sense of purpose and I can’t wait to get started.
“I have a clear way that I want the team to play, and my coaching staff and I will work hard to implement it. We will create a winning culture here with an identity that gets Blues fans on their feet.”
Birmingham CEO Garry Cook was formerly in charge of Manchester City and with the backing of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family, he built a reputation for his ambitious moves in the transfer market, which included signing Real Madrid forward Robinho.
“We are incredibly excited by Wayne’s arrival,” Cook said. “When the opportunity presents itself to appoint a manager who shares your ambition and is both a student and a great of the game, then you act. This is what we have done.
“This is a defining moment for the football club.”