Belfast Telegraph

It's happy families for Rooney after his Goodison return

 

By Tim Rich

The signs outside Goodison Park proclaimed Everton as a club of firsts. The first to construct a purpose-built stadium, the first and only British club to stage a World Cup semi-final, the first to spend 100 seasons in the top flight.

For Wayne Rooney it was all about the second time around and the homecoming that would see his career end in the blue shirt in which he began it.

There would have been several more lucrative ways to have said goodbye. Shanghai and Los Angeles would have offered more money and less pressure but neither city would have given him this.

As he moved through a throng of autograph hunters outside Goodison, he looked tanned, he looked fit and faced with a battery of cameras he smiled a lot and he smiled easily. It has been a long time since you could say that about Rooney at Manchester United.

"There is always more money if you look long enough and hard enough," he said. "I know that the pressure on me to perform will be greater at Everton than it would have been at any other club but I am ready for that.

"My dad is a huge Evertonian and he has been travelling to Manchester to watch me play for the last 13 years but he'll have a five-minute drive now so he's happy. I have brought my eldest boy, Kai, to Goodison a few times. He's got a season ticket here and when I told him I was going back to Everton it was the happiest I have ever seen him.

"I had known for the last couple of weeks I was going back but I had kept it quiet from him. I had kept it quiet from my mum and dad because I knew they wouldn't be able to hold it in and I didn't tell Kai because I didn't want him speaking to his mates. When I told Kai, he jumped on me, he was absolutely made up. To come back and watch his dad play; he'll be buzzing."

It was November when he first started thinking about leaving Old Trafford. He had thought about going before, of course. There was the breakdown in his relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson that led to him handing in a transfer request and criticising the great helmsman's signings.

"I spoke to Jose Mourinho in January to see what his opinion was and he said he wanted me to stay until the end of the season," he added.

"I helped him in the games he wanted me to play but for the sake of my career I had to move forward. It was a sad moment but after 13 years I felt I had to leave. I had started the season quite well but then I had a bad game, Watford away, and that was it."

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