Championship: Record breaker Wayne Rooney to join Derby County as player-coach in January

Wayne Rooney in action for D.C. United. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Former England captain Wayne Rooney will join Derby County as a player-coach in January.

Rooney, 33, will link up with the Championship club from MLS side DC United, where he has been playing since 2018 after leaving Everton.

The forward had signed a three-and-a-half year deal with the Washington side after leaving Goodison Park, but will return to England to work alongside Phillip Cocu at Pride Park.

He has been handed the number 32 shirt and his signature contributed to a new ‘record-breaking’ sponsorship deal signed with shirt sponsor 32Red.

‘Extremely talented and top-class’

Cocu told the club’s official website: “Wayne Rooney is an extremely talented and top-class footballer.

“It is an exciting prospect for him to be joining Derby County and he can bring so much to this squad, both on and off the pitch. He has enjoyed a wonderful career, both in club football and for England, and he still has so much to give as well.

“His credentials speak for themselves. But to have a player with his leadership, skill, experience, character and work ethic will be huge for us. He knows what it takes to succeed as a player and I have no doubt he will have a positive impact right across the club.

“The inspiration and motivation this can generate is massive for all of our players from the first team right through to the youngsters in the Academy. It is entirely in keeping with, and in support of, the club’s philosophy and approach.

“I am looking forward to working with Wayne from the start of next year and welcoming him to the club.”

After bursting onto the scene in the early 2000s, Rooney starred for Everton before a big move to Old Trafford (Photo by Matthew Ashton/EMPICS via Getty Images)
Wayne Rooney became a record scorer at Old Trafford (SOREN ANDERSSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Rooney also was a key member of the England squad during his time in the Premier League (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

After coming through the Everton academy, Rooney joined Manchester United in 2004 and went on to become the club’s record goalscorer with 253 goals before returning to his boyhood club in 2017.

Rooney’s 53 goals for England make him the country’s all-time leading scorer.

Derby began their Championship campaign with a 2-1 victory over Huddersfield Town on Monday.

Rooney joins the staff of Dutchman Cocu, who was brought in to replace Frank Lampard following the former England midfielder’s appointment at Chelsea.

Rooney added: “I am very excited about the opportunity that Derby County have provided me with.

“I am looking forward to joining Phillip Cocu, his coaching staff and the first-team squad from the start of January. I am sure I can make a big contribution and can’t wait to meet everyone, especially the supporters.

“I am equally excited to begin my coaching career at Derby County working with both the first team and Academy.

“I must also take this opportunity to thank DC United, their owners, executives and supporters who have been superb to work with. I want them to know that I will give my all in support of our push for the play-offs.”

Can Rooney finally get Derby out of the Championship?

Yahoo UK’s resident Derby County expert Chris Parsons, who created the ‘Steve Bloomer’s Washing’ podcast, has his say.

Two hours before Derby County’s first competitive game under Phillip Cocu on Monday, fan focus would normally have been on hopes for the new season.

Instead, Rams supporters were in disbelief as news broke that Wayne Rooney was in talks to join Derby as player-coach.

England’s all-time leading scorer is on the verge of an incredible return to British shores, having headed to the US and Major League Soccer in 2018.

Rooney’s star quality is undeniable. But does a move for the 33-year-old make sense for a club who have been marooned in English football’s second tier since 2008?

Read the rest of his thoughts on the big-money move here.

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