Wayne Rooney has revealed what he believes to be the best goal in his career – and he says it is not the memorable derby-winning overhead kick for Manchester United against Manchester City in 2010.
The 34-year-old netted 183 Premier League goals for the Red Devils during a spell that stretched from 2004-2017 and earned a reputation as being one of the game’s leading forwards.
He scored a catalogue of memorable goals and has now lifted the lid on which one he feels was the best.
“When asked about my favourite goal, I always say the overhead kick versus City — but we’re talking, here, about the craft of goalscoring, how it’s about teamwork, movement, control and timing and a goal that probably few people remember sticks out for me,” he wrote in his column for The Times.
“It came versus Wigan, when Rafael crossed from the right and my timing was literally perfect: I got across the centre-back, got a nick on the ball and the ’keeper had no chance.”
Despite his prodigious success in front of goal, Rooney says that he was never a natural No.9 and that he worked tirelessly on his game. He added that the best advice he got during his career came from Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who was invaluable to his success.
“You learn little things along the way,” he said. “The best advice I received was from Fergie. He’d say: ‘You’re working too hard’ and at first I thought: ‘What do you mean? Isn’t that what you want?’ But I used to try to run as hard as I could for 90 minutes and in the last ten minutes be tired. The manager wanted his strikers to keep a little bit in the tank, because that match-winning chance might not arrive until the 90th minute — Fergie time!”
But Rooney also sought the advice of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, now in charge of the Red Devils but then an ace hitman with a knack for coming off the bench to make a decisive contribution.
“Before joining United, I’d seen Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scoring all these goals by shooting through defenders’ legs — incredible,” he said. “I watched him in training, I spoke to him: ‘How do you know what the defender is going to do?’
“It was quite simple. Ole explained that when you shape to shoot, defenders tend to stick their leg out to try and block and that makes a gap. He perfected the technique. And it’s harder for the ’keeper because they don’t see the ball when it leaves your foot. I scored one past Joe Hart against Manchester City that way.”
At club level, Rooney has scored 310 goals in 743 appearances for Everton, Manchester United, DC United and now Championship side Derby.