Ten years have passed since a 16 year old named Wayne Rooney burst onto the the scene with that goal against Arsenal. We look back at that and nine other outstanding performances by the man nicknamed Wazza.
Everton vs Arsenal, 19th October 2002
The rumours that Everton had within their academy a precociously talented teenager was already making rounds by the beginning of 2002. But little did all know that before the year was out, the rumours about 16 year old Wayne Rooney’s incredible talents would be validated and how. A stunning strike in the last minute to help his team defeat the defending champions Arsenal and end their 30 match unbeaten run in the Premier League? Even Hollywood scriptwriters would struggle to better that!
After such an impressive start to his career in domestic football, it was inevitable that Rooney would be called up to the national team soon enough. The youngster made his debut in February 2003 against Australia and a year on was packing his bags for Euro 2004 in Portugal. His impact on the tournament was incredible as the 18 year old lit up the competition with his four goals and effervescent displays. Sadly his tournament was curtailed due to an injury suffered in the quarterfinal against the hosts, a game which England would go on to lose. Even more depressing is the fact that eight years on, the tournament remains the pinnacle of Rooney’s England career.
Manchester United vs Fenerbahce, 28th September 2004
After his exploits in Euro 2004, it was no surprise when Manchester United shelled out over £25 million for Rooney, making him the most expensive teenager in the world. His injury in the European Championships meant Rooney had to wait till the end of September to don a United jersey for the first time, but on the night he finally did, he ensured it would go down as possibly the greatest Old Trafford debut of all time with an exquisite hattrick.
Manchester United vs Middlesbrough, 29th January, 2005
In this FA Cup 4th round tie, Rooney delivered not one but two strikes of sublime quality to sink Boro. The first one was a chip over onrushing Mark Schwarzer from almost 40 yards out while the second was a breathtaking volley that flew past the hapless Schwarzer.
Manchester United vs Newcastle, 24th April 2005
On an afternoon when a distinctly insipid Manchester United seemed headed for a home defeat to Newcastle, Wayne Rooney stepped up with a marvelous volley from outside the area to bring United back into the tie. In terms of sheer technique, this probably remains the most perfectly executed strike in Rooney’s career.
Bolton vs Manchester United, 28th October 2006
After a forgettable World Cup in 2006, Wayne Rooney started the new season in unusually subdued form going 10 games at a stretch without a goal for club and country. All that would change though at Reebok Stadium, as a rampant Rooney put a decent Bolton side to sword with a fantastic treble – his first since the one against Fenerbahce – to strike form.
Manchester United vs Portsmouth, 27th January 2007
On a cold January evening at Old Trafford, a resilient Portsmouth side seemed destined to take this FA Cup tie back to Fratton. That is until Wayne Rooney decreed otherwise. Coming off the bench, Rooney broke the deadlock with a simple tap in. His second goal however had less of simple and more of genius written all over it, as Rooney chipped David James from outside the box with unerring precision.
Manchester United vs AC Milan, 24th April 2007
The first leg of the Champions League semifinal at Old Trafford witnessed a master class from Kaka, who tore through the injury ravaged United defense twice in the first half to hand Milan a 2-1 lead at halftime. In the second half though, it was time for Rooney to respond with a brace of his own; the second goal – coming deep into injury time – providing a fitting finale to a thrilling night of football.
Manchester United vs Manchester City, 12th February 2011
The goal that was voted as the best goal in 20 years of Premier League. With the derby tied at 1-1, Nani floated in a cross from the right which seemed a yard behind Wayne Rooney to make something meaningful out of it. But this after all was Wayne Rooney. What followed was an audacious bicycle kick that flew into the top corner to the utter delight of the Old Trafford audience.
Manchester United vs Arsenal, 28th August 2011
While he may not be David Beckham, Wayne Rooney can be quite handy when it comes to taking freekicks. Arsenal were the team to bear the brunt of this specific aspect of Rooney’s game on an afternoon in which they were handed out their heaviest defeat since 1896. Rooney curled in one at the near post before the break before repeating the dose in the second half, only this time at the far post. Rooney would then go on to complete his hattrick from the penalty spot to add further insult to Gunners’ injuries.