Wayne Rooney ends playing career and becomes full-time Derby manager

Jamie Gardner, PA Chief Sports Reporter
·4 min read

Wayne Rooney has brought his illustrious playing career to an end by accepting the managerial reins at Derby on a full-time basis.

The Championship club confirmed the 35-year-old former England captain had agreed a permanent deal through to the summer of 2023, having succeeded Phillip Cocu on an interim basis in November.

The club statement confirmed that in accepting the manager’s role, Rooney had “elected to call time on his illustrious playing career to fully focus on his job”.

Rooney earned 120 caps for England, scoring 53 goals, and won five Premier League titles with Manchester United, plus the Champions League in 2008.

He said: “When I first arrived back in the UK (from a stint in Major League Soccer in the United States) I was completely blown away by the potential of Derby.

“The stadium, training ground, the quality of the playing staff and the young players coming through and of course the fan base that has remained loyal and supportive.

“Despite other offers, I knew instinctively Derby was the place for me.

“To be given the opportunity to follow the likes of Brian Clough, Jim Smith, Frank Lampard and Phillip Cocu is such an honour and I can promise everyone involved in the club and all our fans, my staff and I will leave no stone unturned in achieving the potential I have witnessed over the last 12 months of this historic football club.”

Speaking at a press conference shown on Sky Sports, Rooney said: “My future I feel is in management.

“I’ve had a great career with a few ups and a few downs, but I wouldn’t change anything. But now, I’d like to write some history in my managerial career.

“I am very fortunate I am staying around football and can be part of it. It is a completely different buzz. I will miss playing, of course, but I’ve had my time.

“It’s an exciting time for myself and the other staff and for the players. It’s good for them to have some clarity over who’s in charge.”

Rooney’s retirement was instantly recognised by the England official Twitter account, which posted: “A #ThreeLions legend. Congratulations on a fantastic playing career, @WayneRooney! Wishing you all the best in management.”

The club confirmed Liam Rosenior, Shay Given and Justin Walker would retain their positions as part of Rooney’s staff.

Rams chief executive Stephen Pearce said: “Our recent upturn in results under Wayne was married together with some positive performances, notably the 2-0 home win over Swansea and the 4-0 victory at Birmingham.

“During that nine-game run we also dramatically improved their defensive record and registered five clean sheets in the process, while in the attacking third we became more effective and ruthless too.

“Those foundations have provided a platform for the club to build on in the second half of the season under Wayne’s guidance.”

Rooney’s professional career began at Everton, where he made his senior debut in 2002 aged 16. His first England cap followed at 17, and he lit up Euro 2004 in his first major tournament appearance before being sidelined by an injury.

In the same summer he moved to Manchester United, breaking the record transfer fee for a teenager. He enjoyed great success at Old Trafford, and is the only player to have scored more than 250 goals for the Red Devils, eclipsing Sir Bobby Charlton’s record in 2017.

That same year he returned to Everton, before moving to DC United in 2018.

Rooney was never able to replicate his incredible displays at Euro 2004 at a future tournament, and was sent off during England’s World Cup quarter-final defeat to Portugal in 2006.