Wayne Rooney retires, appointed Derby manager

Derby County's Wayne Rooney has spoken out over the treatment of players during the coronavirus crisis. (AFP/File / Oli SCARFF)
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All-time record scorer for England and Manchester United. A haul of 16 trophies. Wayne Rooney’s illustrious playing career is over.

The former England and United captain has decided it’s time to focus on trying to replicate his successes as a striker in management.

After taking temporary charge of Derby in November — as a player-coach — the 35-year-old Rooney has accepted the manager’s job on a permanent basis with the second division club through 2023.

“It’s a great feeling to go into management full-time,” Rooney said on Friday. “It’s something that I’ve been preparing for, working for for a few years now. Obviously had a taste of it over the last couple of months and I’ve enjoyed it.”

Rooney has enjoyed three victories and four draws in his nine games at the helm of Derby, which remains in the relegation zone.

It’s been 13 years since Derby played in the Premier League — a competition Rooney won five times after joining United from Everton at age 18 along with tasting glory in the Champions League, FA Cup, League Cup, Club World Cup and Community Shield.

“I’ve had a great career, I’ve enjoyed every minute,” Rooney said. “Some ups, some downs, I wouldn’t change anything I’ve done in my career as a player.”

It was often a tempestuous playing career, with the fiery Rooney embroiled in controversies in his private life and hot-headedness in games.

It is experience he will be able to draw on while nurturing future talents.

At United, Rooney worked under the greatest British manager of all-time in Alex Ferguson. With England, he witnessed more of the instabilities of coaching as a talented group of players never came close to winning a trophy.

“Hopefully I can now start to write some history and have a successful managerial career,” Rooney said.

Rooney, just like at United with his 253 goals, overtook 1966 World Cup winner Bobby Charlton as England’s record scorer by netting 53 times in 120 appearances — the last in 2018 at Wembley Stadium against the United States.

“He did it all,” former United and England teammate Rio Ferdinand said. “He scored a ridiculous amount of goals, scored absolute bangers from anywhere on the pitch, great passer, aggressive, passion, desire, work rate, team player, sacrificed part of his game for others.

“He had the lot and he won loads. What a player. Now that he has retired people will start appreciating him for who he is and what he was as a player because I don’t think he gets the respect he deserves.”

Rooney returned to England after a stint at DC United to last January, and joined Derby as a player-coach.

“Despite other offers I knew instinctively Derby County was the place for me,” Rooney said. “I can promise everyone involved in the club and all our fans, my staff and I will leave no stone unturned in achieving the potential I have witnessed over the last 12 months of this historic football club.”