Ahead of Wayne Rooney's international comeback/farewell against the USA tonight, Max Liu salutes an England legend by selecting five of his greatest moments.
"On October 19 2002, Rooney announced himself to the football world in stunning style. In the dying minutes against Arsenal, he took the ball down beautifully, turned and curled a shot past David Seaman from 25 yards. The commentator said: 'Remember the name - Wayne Rooney.'"
England's all-time top scorer, Manchester United's all-time top scorer, captain of both club and country, the most talented footballer these Isles have produced since Paul Gascoigne, and a quite dreadful penalty-taker. Wayne Rooney is or has been all of these things. As Rooney prepares to make one more appearance for England against USA tonight, it's not easy to select five top moments from his career.
It was difficult, for example, to leave out Rooney's first international goal, away to Macedonia in 2003, when he became the youngest player ever to score for England. How could we overlook his volley for Manchester United against Newcastle in 2005? And should this sweet strike for Everton from only a year ago make the cut? You could even make a case for this wonderful bit of play - which epitomises Rooney's desire for the game - for DC United a few months back. In the end, it's the following five moments that make the cut...
Rooney's first Premier League goal for Everton - 19 October 2002
Everton fans had long known about the talented striker who was speeding through their youth team ranks. In August 2002, David Moyes gave 16-year-old Rooney his first team debut in a 2-2 draw with Tottenham, during which Spurs fans chanted: "Who are ya?" The teenager was unfazed and, just over a month later, scored his first goals for the club in a 3-0 League Cup win over Wrexham. It was on October 19, however, that Rooney announced himself to the football world in stunning style. In the dying minutes of a home match against Arsenal, he took the ball down beautifully, turned and curled a shot past David Seaman from 25 yards out, winning the match for Everton. The commentator said: "Remember the name - Wayne Rooney."
Rooney lights up Euro 2004 - June 2004
Not since Michael Owen left Argentina's defenders for dead at France '98 had a young England player made a big impact at an international tournament. England made a typically slow start to Euro 2004, losing their opening match to France, before Rooney took centre stage for the rest of the campaign. He scored two goals against Switzerland in the second group game, but it was the two he hit against Croatia in the final group game - a 4-2 win - that really caught the nation's imagination and announced Rooney's talent on the world stage. The first was a ferocious strike from 20 yards out, while the second showed how quick Rooney could be, bursting through the Croatian defence and keeping his composure to finish. This was an era before Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi had emerged as world beaters and Rooney now looked set to dominate football for years to come.
Debut hat-trick for Manchester United - 28 September 2004
Rooney's performances at Euro 2004 earned him a big money move to Manchester United. The other rivals for his signature, Arsenal and Newcastle, never really stood a chance and there was a sense that, in signing Rooney, Sir Alex Ferguson was being entrusted with the development of English football's hottest property. Rooney took to Old Trafford from the off, scoring a hat-trick in his first game for United - a Champions League group game win against Fenerbache which was without doubt the greatest debut the club has ever seen. His three goals that night encapsulated the range of his talent, as he ran on to a through ball to slot home his first, smashed in his second from distance, then rounded things off with an exquisite free kick. Old Trafford had a new king.
Rooney scores bicycle kick in Manchester derby - 12 February 2011
During his 13 years with the club, Rooney scored 250 goals for Manchester United, so in selecting the best there are plenty to choose from. We could have gone for the one that made Rooney the club's all-time top scorer, ahead of Bobby Charlton. That was a lovely free-kick against Stoke City but, as well as marking an important moment in the club's history, it was hard to avoid the sense that it also signaled the beginning of the end of his United career and the way was clear for Jose Mourinho to phase out Rooney. So instead, I've decided to remember Rooney at his peak, with this absolute screamer for in the Manchester derby in 2011. Forget 45 passes or whatever it was last weekend - this is the greatest ever derby goal.
Rooney scores record-breaking 50th international goal - 8 September 2015
So much debate surrounds Rooney's international career, the main charge being that he never kicked on to fulfill the potential he showed at Euro 2004. That's a very harsh judgement indeed. Yes, he let England down when he got sent off at Germany 2006, did nothing at South Africa 2010 and frustrated at Brazil 2014. But in between tournaments Rooney scored vital goals for his country and was easily our most consistent player for a decade. Readers of a certain vintage will remember how much we wanted Gary Lineker to overtake Bobby Chartlon's record as England's all-time top scorer. But Rooney did it, netting his 50th international goal from a penalty in a Euro 2016 qualifying match against Switzerland, at Wembley. Tonight, when he returns to Wembley for the final time, Rooney is 5/6 to add to his England tally.
How to turn a profit from Wayne Rooney's final appearance...
Wherever you stand on Wayne Rooney’s one-off return to the Three Lions family it doesn’t really matter now – the fact is he is going to take to the Wembley turf at some point.
The only thing left for punters to consider now is how you can profit from the record England goalscorer’s return to the team.
Before you bet remember this – Rooney will only come on at some point in the second half.
So he may get the full 45 minutes or just five at the death to do his thing.
It’ll probably be somewhere in between so around half of a half to perhaps sign off with a final international goal.
A shade of odds-on to score, the more ambitious punter may want to take a chance on how that goal will be scored. The Betfair Sportsbook's Rooney Specials markets make it 12/1 on a volley, 16/1 a header, 33/1 from outside the box or 40/1 to register a free kick.
More likely of course is a penalty, an option at 17/2.
Perhaps he'll go out in unselfish style with an assist? That can be backed at 4/1.
Hopefully he won't blot his copybook but you can back a Rooney yellow card at 9/1.
Finally, the dreamers can get a slice of 200/1 on England's all-time top scorer signing off with a perfect hat-trick!