Paris (AFP)

He did not consider himself "as a natural scorer", but he ends his career being the top scorer in the history of Manchester United and England: Wayne Rooney, who formalized his retirement on Friday, leaves an immense but unfinished imprint in the history of English football.

"To be completely honest, and it might surprise you, I'm not a natural goalscorer," he told the Sunday Times in April 2020, with humility, when taking stock of his career.

However, that is not what the numbers say.

253 goals with Manchester United, 53 with the England team, a record each time.

"Shrek" (his nickname) might not have been a natural scorer, but he was at least prolific.

What was his secret, then?

"I had time (...) I played for United for 13 years, for England for 15 years. So I had plenty of time to break those records, and looking back I think that I could have scored even more goals. "

The first, he registered it on October 19, 2002 when Everton, his training club, received Arsenal, who then dominated the championship with a head and shoulders.

At the last minute, when the score is 1-1, Rooney, who came into play ten minutes earlier, unleashes an overpowering strike in the top corner to offer the victory to his team and become at 16 years and 360 days the youngest scorer in the history of the Premier League.

Everything is linked.

Rooney became in February 2003 the youngest player in the history of the England team, during a friendly against Australia (his record will then be broken by Theo Walcott).

Then, in September of the same year, the youngest scorer of the selection, at 17 years and 317 days thanks to a goal against Macedonia.

A record, him, still relevant.

- Galaxy change -

Wayne Rooney loves Everton, but Everton are not big enough for him.

In the summer of 2004, he signed to Manchester United, which dropped 27 million pounds (40 million EUR) to afford it.

Liverpool and Manchester may be only 60 kilometers apart, this transfer changes the player galaxy.

Because, now, it is no longer the maintenance that Rooney plays, but the leading European roles.

From the first seasons, he became one of the pillars of Sir Alex Ferguson's squad.

Signing at United means rubbing shoulders with famous names: Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Cristiano Ronaldo, among others.

The player's record will become impressive: five English league titles, one FA Cup, four League Cups, four Community Shields and, of course, the Champions League in 2008, against Chelsea, and the League Europa 2017.

Personal distinctions are also increasing: twice best youngster in the Premier League, three times best English player in the championship, and the consecration in 2010 with the trophy for best player in the Premier League presented by players and journalists.

Rooney with Manchester, it will be 13 seasons, 559 appearances and 253 goals.

- "Not a retirement home" -

In the mid-2010s, however, his physical glitches accumulated and his playing time shrank.

In 2017, he is back at Everton, the club where it all began.

"I do not go into a retirement home," he said during his presentation, and will prove it with 10 goals.

To focus on Everton, he definitively gives up the English selection, stopping at 53 goals in 120 matches, and leaving behind a slew of regrets: the golden generation of English football that he symbolizes will never have passed the quarterfinals. finals in major competition.

Another continent, another challenge: in 2018 he crossed the Atlantic to discover Major League Soccer with DC United.

For a more than honorable record, in two seasons, of 49 matches, 23 goals and some high class actions that recall his best hours.

In January 2020, finally, he launched a final challenge by becoming an assistant coach and player of Derby County, in the Championship, the second English division.

Rooney player still scores (5 goals in 15 matches) and Rooney assistant coach brings a lot to Derby County, which goes back in a few months from 17th to 7th place ... until the end of matches due to the new coronavirus .

This last experience says what will be the future of Wayne Rooney, now head coach: after the pitches, will he make history on the sidelines?

© 2021 AFP