Liverpool (AFP) – England’s record goalscorer Wayne Rooney insists Everton is ‘not a retirement home’ after making an emotional return to Goodison Park.
Rooney rejoined his boyhood club on Sunday after 13 years at Manchester United where he was also the record goalscorer having broken another United icon Bobby Charlton’s mark last season.
The 31-year-old believes he can bring back success to a club who have not lifted a trophy since winning the FA Cup in 1995.
The former England captain is of the view that he can continue to enjoy success back at his first club.
“I’m not coming into a retirement home,” said Rooney at his unveiling to the press on Monday.
“I want to play, win and be successful. I feel good. I’m not fit at the moment but that will build up in the next few weeks.
“I’m excited. I think it’s the right time and I’m ready for it.”
Rooney admitted in May he had become frustrated by a lack of game time at Old Trafford, where he made just 15 Premier League starts last season.
Rooney hopes he can get more regular games at Goodison Park to secure a place in England’s World Cup squad next summer.
The striker has lost both his place and the captaincy since Gareth Southgate took charge, and knows he faces a battle to get back into the side.
However, he suggested he can only start to think about his country if he is playing well for his club.
“I’m focused on Everton, playing well for Everton,” said Rooney, who appeared at his first major finals for England at Euro 2004 and scored four goals.
“If I do that Gareth Southgate will have a decision to make, whether he puts me back in the squad or not.
“Hopefully my performances are good enough for Everton and he won’t be able to ignore me if they are.”
– ‘A special moment’ –
Rooney was a nine-year-old spectator at Wembley the last time they won a trophy, beating Manchester United in the 1995 FA Cup final.
The club have waited more than two decades for a follow-up, and Rooney believes it is time to end that wait.
“You play football to try to win trophies and that’s what we want to do,” said Rooney.
“We want to be successful and we know the right man to lead us to it. It’ll be incredible to win something with Everton.
“I was at the FA Cup final in 1995 when we won that and to win a trophy with Everton would be a special moment.”
Rooney faces the challenge of settling into a squad which is losing last season’s leading scorer Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United in a £75m deal.
Manager Ronald Koeman does not expect Rooney to shoulder the burden of replacing the 25 goals that Lukaku scored in the league last season –- but says his team have to find a way to replace those goals.
“We had a great striker like Romelu scoring 25 goals last season, but we needed more players with more productivity,” said Koeman.
“It’s what we need to improve. I’d rather have several players scoring 10 goals. Wayne can bring that to the team.
“The experience of Wayne is really important to bring over to the rest of the players.
“He is an example for the younger players. I think we have missed a player like Wayne to have that experience in the team.
“So far we are doing good business and you will see in the next weeks, maybe we will do more.”
Rooney may be happy to have returned to the club he supported as a boy but his family too are ecstatic.
“My eldest lad was the happiest ever, I think, and also my Dad who’s Evertonian,” said Rooney.
“He’s gone off to watch me for the last 13 years at Manchester and now he’ll have a five-minute drive to watch me play again so I think he’s really happy.”