An ode to Wayne Rooney, a man who captured the joy of football

“Remember the name” was the exclamation made by Clyve Tyldesley when a 16-year-old Wayne Rooney rattled one in off David Seaman’s crossbar from all of 30-yards out.

As Rooney calls time on an illustrious career to embark on his journey into coaching, we’ve picked out a few of the greatest moments from someone who played the game like it was a kickabout in the street, someone who was as fun as he was fascinating to watch.

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Of course we begin with that Everton debut.

Little did we know, that moment of explosion, a shot hit with every ounce of ferocity the teenager could muster up, would become the signature of one of the greatest Premier League players of all time.

Next up the United debut. Once again, strolling out onto the field unfazed by the prospect of starting for one of the biggest clubs in the world, in the biggest club competition in the world.

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Again, he wasted no time in showing what would follow in the years to come. A blistering performance capped by a stunning hat trick that even left Sir Alex Ferguson laughing to himself in disbelief.

Then there’s the volley against Newcastle. No amounts of words could better summarise the striker quite like him snapping out of an argument with the ref, before hitting a volley so good it could be hung the Louvre.

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Obviously we draw things to a close with that overhead kick in the derby. There are moments in football, when everything falls perfectly into place and something truly inexplicable happens.

To paraphrase the great Peter Drury, to do this, at that time, in that game. Simply ridiculous.

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He’d call time on his United career as the club’s all-time leading scorer, an achievement made all the more impressive given his selfless approach to the game, and by no means ever being an out-and-out striker.

Yes, along the way there were imperfections, but if anything it made this colossus of the game all the more human, and someone who can only be looked back on as one of the greatest to ply his trade in a league that has been filled with incredible talent throughout the years.

And if nothing else, watching him reminded us, me, you, what football was all about.

Featured image credit: Getty