Wayne Rooney has admitted he would have liked to finish his career at Manchester United, but believes he ultimately left the club “at the right time”.
The 33-year-old is in for an emotional night on Thursday, 15 November, as he returns to England for one final international appearance in a friendly against the USA – for which he’s even been handed the captain’s armband by manager Gareth Southgate.
Rooney, who announced his international retirement in August 2017, is being given a tribute for his services to English football – and will come off the bench in the second half, wearing the No. 10 jersey, to a guard of honour from his England team-mates.
Speaking to the media ahead of his farewell bow, the striker, who now plies his trade at DC United in the MLS, ruled out a return to England to finish his club career. But Rooney was more vocal about his original preference in an interview with MUTV, Manchester United’s official online channel.
“Of course you miss it. It was the highlight of my career, playing for Man United and I was there for so long. But it was the right time,” he said. “I wasn't playing, first of all. I have always been a player who wants to play. Obviously I spoke to the manager and it didn't look like I was going to play, so it was the right decision and the right time for me to go.”
"Obviously, you wish, the ideal situation was staying there and finishing your career there, but football changes. Different things happen and things happen for a reason." - Wayne Rooney to MUTV
Rooney made only 39 appearances in his final season at Old Trafford in 2016/17 – the year Jose Mourinho took over the reins at the club – out of a possible 65 across competitions.
United’s all-time leading scorer with 253 goals over a 13-year spell, Rooney’s final appearance for the club would come during their Europa League final win over Ajax in Sweden.
"It would have been nice to have done it at Old Trafford. But I have been back there a few times and I will be back over the Christmas period, at a game to watch them. I left with great memories." - Wayne Rooney to MUTV
While he returned to his boyhood club Everton for the 2017/18 season, Rooney has gone on to wow the audiences in America since his departure from the Premier League, scoring 12 goals and assisting six in 21 matches in his debut season in the MLS to lift DC United from bottom spot in the Eastern Conference into the play-offs.
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