Belfast Telegraph

Wayne Rooney return delights Everton fans

Wayne Rooney's return to Everton has been roundly welcomed by fans delighted to see the boyhood Blue back at the club.

The 31-year-old admits he is "ecstatic" to go back to Goodison Park after 13 years at Manchester United and the feeling appears to be mutual.

"I feel like a 15-year-old kid again reliving that goal against Arsenal," David Downie, who runs the Blue Room FC podcast and website, told Press Association Sport.

"For now it is just a case of enjoying the moment and that he's back. It still feels quite surreal that he's back where it all started but he has a point to prove.

"Initially I was very sceptical because when you look at the way Everton have gone about their (other) business they have signed younger, hungry players who haven't reached the peak of their careers yet.

"Rooney is over 30 and a lot of people, including myself, were saying he was on quite a steep decline.

"But as time has gone on you start to remember things and you start to get caught up in the sentiment and I can't wait to see him in a blue shirt against Stoke on the opening day."

There is an element of romance to Rooney's return and it is likely to be hugely beneficial to them commercially on the back of his name alone.

However, that is unlikely to have influenced the thinking of manager Ronald Koeman, whose interest in England's and United's record goalscoring goes back six months or more.

Downie added: "There is a commercial element - he is worldwide brand and Everton should reap the rewards of that if they go about it the right way - but I don't think Koeman sees it like that.

"He's obviously seen something he can work with. No doubt Rooney had offers from far and wide and he could have even stayed at Manchester United and been a bit-part player on double the wages that he has come to Everton for so all that indicates that he is hungry to prove a point."

Over the years Rooney has cut something of a contentious figure for Everton supporters following his departure as a precocious 18-year-old and then his controversial badge-kissing incidents in front of Toffees fans in 2007 and 2008.

However, that now appears to have all been forgotten.

"At the time I remember being furious about it and I am sure he would say he was younger and naive," said Downie.

"He got a lot of stick from Evertonians even before that and he got caught up in the emotion of a football match.

"I think many fans would prefer to say it is water under the bridge and I don't think too many fans bear grudges as he's gone on to win every domestic and European trophy available.

"The more I think about it the more I think this is a brave move because he could have got more money elsewhere and eased himself into retirement."

Mark Jones, of the People's Group, is similarly impressed to see Rooney's return and does not feel they are getting an over-the-hill player.

"Absolutely delighted. He has still got quality, it's clear he went stale at United and Everton gives him new motivation and a new lease of life," he said.

"I don't think he looked particularly fit or motivated (at United). You have a situation where he is now back at his boyhood club, he looks fit and up for the challenge.

"Take the emotional side out of it and we've got a world-class player on our hands. Put the emotion back in and it is absolutely fantastic signing and shows the club is going in the right direction.

"For what we've got him for - I know it was a bit of a sweetener for the (Romelu) Lukaku deal - I think it is an outrageous signing.

"It is not a sentimental signing - Koeman wouldn't have gone anywhere near him if he didn't think he could offer anything.

"What a prospect for Everton on a global market. We have a world-renowned world star. I don't see any negatives in it."


From Belfast Telegraph