Going full Toffee: Rooney’s Everton debut XI

Ben Mountain

What did most of us do at 16 years old? For the majority, we were busy hiding in the local park with a crate of dad’s John Smith’s. A teenage Wayne Rooney, however, was lining up against Teddy Sheringham for his Premier League debut. And for that, we’re all just as bitter as those stolen tinnies. 

Wayne Rooney has been one of England’s most incredible footballing talents over the twenty years. Period.

The drivel of a debate that drones on about his competence has grown old. It’s tiresome now.

A man with the most goals ever for both England and Manchester United, every club trophy available and 32 individual honours is a man whose reputation shouldn’t once come close to doubt. It’s a shame that we chose to bemoan the country’s most promising talent when he could have achieved even more than he did.

Admittedly, Rooney has never been the image of perfection. But it can’t be said that he hasn’t come far.

You only need to cast your mind back to a summer’s day in 2002, when Everton lined up against Tottenham Hotspur in what would prove to be a 2-2 draw. In that game, a fresh-faced Wayne Rooney made his first full-team debut. And that’s where it all began.

Because you hopefully won’t be able to remember that day too clearly, we’ve found out the starting XI for you.

Take a look at some of these names. Who would have thought then that the fella would end up alongside the likes of Ronaldo? Certainly not Tony Hibbert.

They grow up so fast, don’t they? One minute you’re singing his praises as the prodigal son and the next you’re calling him Shrek and lambasting him for all the world’s problems. How time flies.

Anyway, Rooney was certainly a diamond in a very rough ruff when he started out at Everton. A few memorable names up there, sure. But no one who would go on and change the world.

Well, no one bar a timid 16-year-old kid…


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