He may not have been able to win any silverware with the Three Lions, but after a little over a year away, Wayne Rooney is at least coming home.
The England and Manchester United all-time top goalscorer will return to his homeland to take up a position at Championship-side Derby County in the capacity of player-coach, arriving at the start of 2020.
Philip Cocu was appointed manager of the Rams following Frank Lampard’s departure to Chelsea this summer, back to Stamford Bridge where the crowd chants his name loudest, after a single season at Pride Park.
In June 2018, a month after Lampard being granted his first managerial role, his former international teammate Rooney was heading stateside, leaving boyhood club Everton to play for DC United.
He joined four months into the 2018 MLS season in the mid-season transfer window. DC United eventually finished fourth in the Eastern Conference before being knocked out in the next stage.
Rooney is now a year into a three-and-a-half-year contract with DC United, who provided the Englishman with the largest deal in their history - $12m plus another $7.5m with bonuses. So far Rooney has made 46 appearances for the Black-and-Red, with a haul of 25 goals.
Reports emerged early in the week via The Telegraph that Rooney is ready to return to England, with Derby County chairman Mel Morris instigating the move.
The 33-year-old Wayne Rooney will now accompany Cocu not only in the backroom as a member of his coaching staff, but will be taking to the pitch in the white of Derby once the MLS season ends. Mel Morris produced a statement on the official Derby County website announcing Rooney (eventually) becoming a Ram:
“First and foremost, Wayne is joining us as a player but he will also have coaching responsibilities too, particularly around the development of our younger players progressing towards the first-team from our Academy, as he looks to gain his relevant qualifications for a future coaching and management career.”
As highlighted by football journalist Daniel Storey (via social media), there may be some additional incentive to Wayne Rooney’s new role. English Football League regulations state: “Some clubs appoint players to other roles e.g. manager or coach. So as to avoid clubs seeking to load salary payments under both roles will be amalgamated and 50% of the total will be attributed as Player Related Expenditure for the purposes of determining compliance with the SCMP (Salary Cost Management Protocol) Requirement.”
If Rooney does manage to be part of the side that takes Derby up to the Premier League there may very well be the opportunity to face one of his former sides - Manchester United or Everton. As Morris articulated, the position should allow Rooney to complete his coaching badges, which the forward had already stated he is currently pursuing.
Derby meanwhile got off to a flying start to their 2019/20 campaign with a 2-1 win over recently relegated Huddersfield Town, back in the Championship after two seasons in the top flight.