Confined to a mere footnote of a European Final, that is what Wayne Rooney’s Manchester United’s bow out looks to be; a full-bloodied tackle in the dying embers of the game, encapsulated everything about the situation: an able and hungry mind, in a body that has defeated him.
“Honestly, I’ve said before, I don’t know, I’ve got decisions to make now over the next few weeks, have a word with my family, and then I’ll decide.”
“As the manager said before, he wants me to stay, but…”
A single “but” that carried so much more weight than just a one-symbol connective word; a “but” laced with a gutting sense of acceptance that the Old Trafford curtain comes down on Manchester United’s all-time record goalscorer, several years too early; several years earlier than many predicted.
China came calling in February, Major League Soccer will always be an option for Rooney – one that will still be there in a few years time – but perhaps there’s a David Beckham type Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan style stints in one of European’s less physically demanding leagues.
Rooney, often closed up, never giving much away to the media – no one blames him; forever the scapegoat – was surprisingly candid after the Europa League Final. And it’s hard to not come away from Rooney’s post-match comments believing that he’ll be pulling on that Toffees blue for the 2017/18 Premier League season:
“I’ve played for two Premier League clubs and they’re the only two Premier League clubs I’ll play for,”
It all fits too perfectly for Rooney, given his upbringing, his family being settled and the chance of a romantic ending to one of the Premier League’s greatest ever strikers; one that his achievements are warranted of.
The only person it doesn’t suit? Everton Football Club.