The talks had been going on forever; they were saying he would leave but they had said so many times before and he always ended up staying. This time though, the departure became official from speculative. He left to go from where he came; where at age 16 he thundered the ball into the net against the “invincible” Arsenal. The commentator said back then “Remember the name!” A decade and a half later, it is a household name all across the world.
The last few seasons have been somewhat painful for Manchester United. The “Class of 92” is gone, the boss Sir Alex retired, the trophies dried up and frustration became the routine from being the exception. However, there was always one link that served as a reminder to the glory days – the days when the Champions League was won in Moscow, the days when back to back league titles were the norm and the days when the league cup would just be won for fun. The link to that glorious past was the man who grew with the club almost as soon as he joined it.
He was a gifted talent who formed a great partnership with another teen sensation from Portugal. Together the prodigy from Lisbon and the child genius from Everton were a delight to watch becoming the nightmare duo of all clubs in England; Ronaldo soon left and that made Rooney even more level headed and mature. From being a short tempered young boy, he transformed into a level headed leader of men seeing through the club’s transition as the legends were departing.
In recent years, as past players and trophies were saying good-bye to United, form was bidding farewell to Rooney. The stamina was going down with age, the goals were drying up and the spot in the team was soon lost to new found talents. It was a pain to watch for any United fan. The superhero no longer seemed supreme. However, is it the end that counts or is it more of the journey that matters!
As the leading goal scorer in the club’s prestigious history and a winner of five league titles, a Champions League, a club World Cup and a Europa League; Rooney will go down in history as one of the all time great footballers and one of Manchester United’s most loyal servants.
For any United fan, Rooney was the symbol of glory and trophies, he was a reminder of the grit and determination of the club. His missile-like blast against Newcastle all those years ago, his goal from the half line against West Ham, his free-kick against Stoke to become United’s leading goal scorer and above all his bicycle kick against Manchester City on that afternoon at Old Trafford will be a part of Manchester folklore for generations.
What Martin Tyler said as a commentator when Rooney scored that once in a lifetime bicycle kick can actually now be said about his entire career at Manchester United – “Rooneeeeeeyyy! It defies description! How about ‘sensational’? How about ‘superb’?”
Thank you for the memories.