Talk of Wayne Rooney linking up with Derby was written off as a “wind up” by those at Pride Park, admits Curtis Davies, but the Manchester United legend is now being tipped to become a top manager.
The Rams announced in August 2019 that an 18-month player-coach deal had been put in place with England’s all-time leading goalscorer.
Derby’s name was put in the frame, but Davies says few of those on the club’s books considered there to be any substance to the speculation.
The Rams defender told talkSPORT of a deal which added a Red Devils and Three Lions icon to Phillip Cocu’s ranks: “It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster season, to be honest. Wayne signing was massive. When we first saw it on the news we thought it was a wind up.
“Him signing was massive. He’s obviously come here for different reasons. He wants to start his coaching career with the club as well.
“That’s helped us to get him in but the job he’s done on the pitch has been fantastic and he’s been what you expect from Wayne Rooney.
“He’s been top quality and he’s been using it both for himself and also for the young lads to help them come through too.”
Rooney is still offering plenty in a playing capacity at present, but his future lies in management.
Davies believes a man who spent several years working under Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford is destined to be as successful off the field as he has been on it, with the 34-year-old looking to follow the lead of former England team-mates Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard by filling a prestigious post.
“He’s definitely got the way about him,” added Davies.
“I’ve not been in any sessions with him to know what his coaching is like but I know good managers can also be good coaches.
“I can see it in him, obviously he’s got a wealth of experience and played at the very top level, captained England, captained Manchester United, won everything so at worst he can command the respect of any player, which is what you need as a manager when you are starting out.”
Rooney and Derby are currently waiting to discover whether a green light will be given for Championship clubs to complete their 2019-20 campaigns, with the Rams having entered the coronavirus-enforced lockdown sat 12th in the second tier – five points adrift of the play-offs.