Rooney rekindles love affair with Blues

When Wayne Rooney left for Manchester United on deadline day in August 2004, he broke the hearts of every Evertonian across the world. On that sombre day, a little bit of us all died.

He was our boy wonder and a true Blue as his t-shirt had famously displayed. He had allowed us all to dream again after years of disillusionment and outright depression.

Rooney had offered Evertonians of all ages and generations something to latch on to. A local lad, raised in our own academy, with astonishing ability. More than anything or anyone, Wayne Rooney was the embodiment of all our hopes and dreams. The street footballer that was destined for Goodison folklore. The lad who still ‘played out’ whilst playing for Everton and the Everton player with the Everton posters in his bedroom window. The kid whose only dream was to play for Everton Football Club and who represented us all each time he pulled on the famous royal blue shirt. And, it has to be said, potentially the greatest Everton player of them all.

Our hearts swelled with pride as he set Euro 2004 alight with some truly mesmerising performances for England. We did not need to soil our thoughts with the impure proposition that his performances may lead to his exit, after all, Wayne was one of us. A record five-year contract was offered to Rooney upon his return. His signature was a mere formality we all hoped. There was even talk of the captaincy, such was his impact at the tournament.

The weeks passed by, with Rooney sidelined with a metatarsal injury picked up in the quarter final against Portugal, with no resolution. The silence became deafening. And then it happened. Wayne Rooney submitted a transfer request seeking to leave the club he claimed to love. It was like finding your best mate in bed with your bird, the winning lottery numbers that you forgot to put on…the most heart-wrenching feeling any Evertonian had endured for years. We all felt broken and cheated.

I still remember how dire I felt when he was presented as a Manchester United player with a smug Alex Ferguson. I remember the pathetic hatred I felt for the young lad with the ‘Please buy Rooney’ homemade sign. I remember him scoring a hat-trick on his debut in the Champions League against Fenerbache when we had all hoped for a compound fracture. Wayne Rooney inspired these feelings of hatred in us all. ‘We hate you so much because we loved you so much’, as another famous t-shirt later explained at Goodison.

As the years passed, the bile began to subside. Returns to Goodison still brought boos but there was a general acceptance that we were all ‘over’ him. The club had moved on. We celebrated every time he scored against Liverpool and his reactions to those goals told us he was still a Blue. As his boys grew up, images surfaced of them donning our strip which confirmed their true allegiance.

In August 2015, Rooney returned to play alongside his hero Duncan Ferguson in a testimonial game against Villarreal at Goodison. The years had passed but perhaps then it became clear that Evertonians were not quite over Wayne Rooney. When he was introduced as a substitute with twenty minutes left, the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end as he entered the pitch. There was a tangible sense of excitement every time he touched the ball and the Gwladys Street seats made their familiar clattering noise in expectation. I felt like an 11-year old lad again and it confirmed to me that Wayne Rooney was still in the hearts of Evertonians. The feelings that came back were feelings that had never left. We had allowed him back in and hoped that he would come back to where he belonged before it was too late.

Rooney’s career has taken an unexpected plunge in a short period of time. He was discarded by Jose Mourinho within ten games and told he had no future at the club. Many Evertonians hoped he would come home but lots suspected that the riches on offer in the Far East would be too good to turn down. Wayne Rooney now has a shot at redemption. He has an opportunity to fulfil the dreams he has held since he was a little boy and become one of the Goodison Gods. At 31, time is still on his side and he is returning to a club that is thinking big again and not simply treading water.

When Wayne Rooney left us during our hour of need, he didn’t just take our hopes and dreams but he also took our pride. His departure confirmed that Everton were no longer a major force in English football, but merely the footballing equivalent of an almost extinct animal at the zoo. We were looked at with pity rather than the respect our history and heritage deserved.

13 years on and the landscape has changed significantly. There is a sense of arrogance about Everton again and a steely determination to return our club back to the top table. From being everyone’s ‘second’ club in England due to our likeability and community efforts, you can now taste the fear and jealousy among our peers as we continue to make statements of intent in the market.

For Rooney, there must be a burning desire to silence those who have prematurely consigned him to the scrap heap. For Evertonians, the feeling of excitement that our boy is coming home to join the journey ahead has engulfed us all. The time has finally come for Wayne Rooney to continue with the fairy tale chapter he had began to write before it was shelved on the day he gave up on us.

Joe Jennings

Follow Joe on Twitter: @JoeJennings9

One Comment

  1. Trevor Edwards says:

    Superb, as I’ve come to expect from Joe.
    Captures the feelings then and now.
    We may never know how much of a percentage of his sale was down to the club having to sell him, Wayne pushing for the move or the beaut of an agent. We lost 13 years of joy of watching him but would things have turned out differently had he stayed? Would we have had that winning mentality or would we still have fell short due to financial limitations? Would we even have gone under? We will never know and it no longer matters. We have a bright future to match the glorious past and Wayne can be a part of it.

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