Soccerstarz - Man Utd Wayne Rooney - Home Kit
Wayne Mark Rooney burst onto the Old Trafford stage in September 2004, netting an unforgettable hat-trick against Fenerbahce on his debut.
He'd arrived from Everton, his boyhood club, a few weeks earlier, becoming the world's most expensive teenager in the process. But it wasn't his performances for the Toffees that had sparked United's interest. Staff at Carrington knew about Wayne from a much, much earlier age.
"Our Under-9 side played Everton's boys one day and they absolutely hammered us," now-Academy manager Paul McGuinness remembers. "Rooney scored a few [six, actually], but there was one that stood out. It was basically the classic overhead kick, the perfect bicycle kick, which for a kid of eight or nine years old was really something special."
Perhaps his performance on his United debut wasn't that surprising, after all. Indeed, it merely hinted at what was to follow. By the end of the 2004/05 campaign Rooney had amassed 17 goals in 43 appearances and was rightly named PFA Young Player of the Year.
Rooney's second season at Old Trafford again saw him take huge strides. He ended the season with 19 goals in 48 matches and was voted both Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year by fans and PFA Young Player of the year (again) by his fellow professionals.
The young striker openly aims to better his goal tally each season and, despite a difficult World Cup with England in 2006, Rooney went on to net 23 times for United as the Reds lifted the Carling Cup and a first English title in three years.
Cristiano Ronaldo stole all the headlines in 2007/08, but Rooney chipped in with another 18 goals, a tally that included three league braces and four goals in Europe. His exciting strike partnership with 19-goal Carlos Tevez was one of the key factors in the Reds' Premier League and Champions League double triumph and cemented his iconic status at Old Trafford.
But it's not just Wayne's goals that endeared him to the United faithful. A tireless worker, Rooney always gives 100 per cent and can't stand losing. They're traits that have, from time to time, landed him in hot water but Reds fans recognise the odd over-zealous challenge or act of petulance is merely a by-product of Rooney's immense passion and will to win.
The striker's ability to adapt is an attribute often overlooked. Although most at home leading the line or playing just behind a main striker, Rooney has delivered sparkling displays from out wide on numerous occasions. With pace to burn and an eye for a long, raking pass, Rooney's just as effective creating chances as he is taking them.
That said, goals are Rooney's bread and butter and not even the arrival of Dimitar Berbatov at Old Trafford in September 2008 could diminish Rooney's potency. Indeed, the pair forged a strong partnership up front and, in January 2009, Wayne embarked on a scoring run that saw him net in five consecutive league games.
A month earlier, he stole the show in Japan as United lifted the FIFA Club World Cup, thanks to Rooney's goal in the final and a brace off the bench in the semi.
There was more success to follow in 2008/09 as the England striker picked up his third league winners' medal with the Reds in May. Sadly, however, Rooney and United couldn't add another European title as Barcelona ran out victorious in the Champions League final in Rome.
The striker began the 2009/10 campaign in fine fettle, netting in the Reds' opening two games against Chelsea, in the Community Shield, and Birmingham City in the league. Another energetic display from Rooney followed in the 5-0 thrashing of Wigan at the DW Stadium on 22 August during which he fired his 100th and 101st goals for the club.
Come May, that tally was 131 as Rooney enjoyed his best ever season in front of goal and, at times, appeared to steer the Reds almost single-handedly through both domestic and European waters. And all as an out-and-out centre-forward. Gone were the days of Wayne chasing all over the pitch and firing home the odd goal from distance: now he was a predatory striker who scored most of his goals in and around the six-yard box.
His 2009/10 feats were rewarded with a clutch of individual honours, including the PFA and Football Writers' Player of the Year awards. Rooney had always displayed remarkable promise: now he had proved the hype was more than justified. What's more, in October 2010 he penned a new five-year deal, guaranteeing his long-term United future.
And while the striker didn't reach anything near top form until the second half of 2010/11, his contribution to the Reds' record-breaking 19th league title was undeniable.
When it mattered most, Rooney was there to bang in the goals and drive United towards glory. He dragged Sir Alex's men back from 2-0 down to net a hat-trick in United's 4-2 win at West Ham, was instrumental in the win against Chelsea at Old Trafford and kept his nerve to slot home the penalty at Ewood Park that ultimately clinched the title.