The Red Devils legend revealed he could’ve signed for a Premier League rival before his big-money arrival in 2004.
Wayne Rooney has revealed he could’ve played for Chelsea or Newcastle before his €37m transfer to Manchester United in 2004.
The forward was, at the time, one of the most exciting young prospects in European football. A brilliant campaign for England in Euro 2004 propelled him into stardom, making a departure from boyhood club Everton a certainty.
He signed up for United and became the club’s record goalscorer during a trophy-laden spell that ended in 2017. 253 goals, five Premier League titles, and the Champions League all came his way.
Wayne Rooney in the Premier League from 2005-14:
⚽ – 147 goals
🎯 – 78 assists
⏳ – 22,655 minutes = 252 games
With 225 goal contributions in the equivalent of 252 games, he was involved in 43% of all Man Utd goals when he was on the pitch! pic.twitter.com/didN1ZwOfd
— UtdArena (@utdarena) November 21, 2020
But it turns out it may never have happened had Rooney accepted Everton’s favored choice Chelsea to sign him instead.
“I knew it [joining United] was an option before Euro 2004,” Rooney, who now plays for and coaches Derby County in the Championship, told the UTD podcast.
“I knew Manchester United wanted to sign me.
“I think going to the Euros and doing well there probably added a bit more money onto the transfer fee but I broke my foot and found out a few things.
“Everton were really struggling for money at the time and I found out they were listening to offers from people as well.
“They were trying to push me to sign for Chelsea because they were going to pay the most money. But, once I knew United were interested, I wanted some confirmation that they did want to sign me.”
The run and assist from Rooney. The touch and volley from Ruud.
— UnitedReds (@UnitedRedscom) November 19, 2020
Rooney added: “Once I knew they did want to sign me, it was the only club [for me] as I wanted to work with Sir Alex Ferguson and play with Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Roy Keane, Rio Ferdinand, these players, so I knew where I wanted to go.
“It was 40 minutes from my home, where I grew up, as well and it was a perfect fit for me. United actually wanted to wait a year, until the following year, but then Newcastle came into talks with Everton and with myself.
“I’d gone too far then. I couldn’t wait another year, I couldn’t stay another year at Everton, so I was prepared to go to Newcastle for that year.
“I spoke to them, we spoke about salary and what I wanted if I went there was, after a year, if Manchester United come in, you have to let me go.
“Newcastle were agreeing to that but obviously, with United, I went back to them and said, if you don’t do it now, I’ll go to Newcastle with a clause in place. United obviously didn’t want me to go there so I came here.
“It was basically whatever Newcastle paid for me, United would have paid a year later.”