Football’s romantic homecomings

You should never go back they say but Wayne Rooney has ignored that rule with a return to his boyhood club, Everton.

The Merseyside born, record England goalscorer burst onto the scene at youth level at the Toffees, scoring eight goals in eight games in their run to the 2002 FA Youth Cup Final.

Already, everyone was tipping Rooney to the top, especially when his wonder goal in October 2002 ended reigning Champions Arsenal’s 30-match unbeaten run having broken into David Moyes’ first-team in the 2002/03 season.

The current England captain would spend two seasons at senior level with Everton, scoring 17 goals in 77 games and being named BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year in 2002 Golden Boy in 2004.

His standout performances in UEFA Euro 2004 which saw him named in the Team of the Tournament were enough to convince Sir Alex Ferguson to part with £25.6m for Rooney – the highest fee paid for a teenager at that time.

Rooney more than paid off the fee, winning five league titles as well as the UEFA Champions League in 2008 and last season broke Sir Bobby Charlton’s Manchester United all-time scoring record – months after breaking Charlton’s England record.

His powers may have wained in recent seasons, with his league goals decreasing every season since 2013 and off-field contract disputes disrupting seasons and his standing with some fans, however, undoubtedly Rooney will go down as a Manchester United legend.

His return to Everton holds a lot of sentimental value, there was resentment between the two parties for several years after his 2004 summer move to Old Trafford but the relationship seems to have been mended in recent seasons and seeing the boy that once proclaimed “Once a Blue, always a blue” will be a sight some Toffees fans would never think they’d see again.

If the local boy done good can lift Everton into the top four this season, it will certainly be worth it.

However, Rooney isn’t alone in returning to his former club after good and awful spells away, these ten players all returned to their former loves, each with differing fortunes.

It would surprise everyone should league titles be heading to Goodison Park but with less pressure for results at Everton, maybe Rooney could re-ignite his career and become a standout player in the Premier League again.

Rooney’s return is an emotional one, returning back to his spiritual home. But no one would begrudge the 31-year-old a fond farewell at the top level.

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