England striker Wayne Rooney has left Manchester United to return to his boyhood club Everton, 13 years after signing for the Reds from the Merseyside team. The 20-time Premier League winners confirmed Rooney's exit via a post on their official Twitter account.
Everton said Rooney signed a two-year contract. Rooney moved from Everton to United for 27 million pounds in 2004 and went on to become United's all-time top scorer. He is also England's record scorer. Rooney lost his place in United's team last season in Jose Mourinho's first year in charge.
The 31-year-old Rooney, the most recognized and scrutinized English soccer player, has been getting accustomed to a reduced status after losing his starting place in the United team and dropping out of the national team squad.
A return to Everton, where he made his name as a dynamic teenager, signals a fresh start.
"It is some time since I said that the only Premier League club I would play for other than Manchester United was Everton, so I am delighted that the move has happened," Rooney said after signing a two-year contract. "Thirteen years ago I went to United with the intention of winning trophies and I have been fortunate to be a part of one of the most successful periods in the club's history."
The striker will now be a central figure once again in a team that is looking to break the Premier League's elite under coach Ronald Koeman.
"I have come back to Everton because I believe Ronald Koeman is building a team that can win something," Rooney said, "and I look forward to playing my part in making that a reality for the club I have supported since a boy."
Everton is on the verge of selling Romelu Lukaku to United but has signed goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, center back Michael Keane, midfielder Davy Klaassen and striker Sandro Ramirez this offseason. Everton's majority shareholder since February 2016, Iranian-British businessman Farhad Moshiri, wants to take the team higher than last season's sixth place.
"Wayne has shown me that ambition that we need and that winning mentality - he knows how to win titles and I'm really happy he's decided to come home," Koeman said. "He loves Everton and he was desperate to come back. He is still only 31 and I don't have any doubts about his qualities. It's fantastic he's here."
Rooney scored a record 253 goals for United after moving from Everton for 27 million pounds as an 18-year-old in 2004, winning the Premier League title five times, the FA Cup once, the League Cup three times, the Champions League once and the Europa League last season. He is also England's record scorer with 53 goals.
He was a peripheral figure at United last season in Jose Mourinho's first year in charge, starting only 15 league games, and wasn't included in the national team's most recent squad.
"He has been a model professional throughout his time at the club and will remain in the history books for many years to come," Mourinho said. "It is never easy to see a great player playing less football than he would like and I could not stand in his way when he asked to go back to Everton. His experience, focus and determination will be missed and I wish him well for the future."
Rooney will go down as one of the greatest United players of the modern era, although many will argue he hasn't quite reached the heights expected of him when he was arguably at the top of his game in the 2009-10 season, at that time playing at a level comparable to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
His stint at United was tarnished for some when Rooney sought to leave the club firstly in 2010 and again at the end of the 2012-13 season, clashing with then-manager Alex Ferguson both times.
(With inputs from agencies)