Swansea City loanee Paul Arriola will face former team-mate Wayne Rooney later this year in a late-season Championship clash of personal significance.
Rooney, now managing Derby County, was a mentor of sorts for the winger when they were together at D.C. United. Since then, Arriola has overcome a torn ACL to regain a role in the U.S. men's national team squad and earned a transfer move to Europe.
Arriola and the Swans will face Rooney's squad on May 1.
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What did Arriola say about Rooney?
“Playing with Wayne Rooney was amazing," Arriola told Swansea City's club website. "Wayne is a great guy, he is a great player. Not just in his leadership on the field, but off it too.
“I only have great things to say about him and my experiences with him. He definitely raised my level of playing, as was the case with my team-mates at the time.
“Obviously, it is exciting for him to now be in a new chapter being the gaffer.”
How has Arriola fit in at Swansea City?
Arriola has benefited from the joint loan arrival of USMNT team-mate Jordan Morris and said the Swans have been welcoming in training.
“[Morris] and I play together for the national team, and we go quite a way back over a few years," Arriola said. “We had both spoken about the potential move earlier in the month, and how good it would be to be part of this club.
“It’s been a lot easier, and will be an easier transition to have a familiar face who is such a good friend around."
The bigger picture
There is more than just Rooney in the near future for Arriola: the versatile playmaker is in contention to make his debut against Manchester City in the FA Cup on Wednesday. The high-profile matchup presents an opportunity to burnish his overseas credentials from the onset and knock off a club that served as Rooney's rivals for some time.