Once a Blue… once more a Blue Rooney's Everton career might not be over
12:28 GMT, 19 October 2012
Secrets don't keep where football is concerned. Early in 2002, there were rumblings that a young player was emerging at Goodison Park who was something out of the ordinary.
Before an FA Youth Cup tie that February, the then Manchester City Academy Director Jim Cassell had expressed his confidence that his side would make it through to the semi-finals but his outlook was tempered by reports he had received back from Merseyside.
'There is a kid called Rooney who plays for Everton who has big reputation already,' Cassell said. 'Keep an eye on him.'
United front: Rooney has now spent eight successful years at Old Trafford
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Sure enough, his prediction came true. City did indeed acquit themselves well, scoring two very good goals. The only problem for them was that Wayne Rooney was operating on a different level that evening, scoring two of his own and setting another two up as Everton won 4-2.
It was apparent then that Rooney would go on to play at the highest and within six months he had made his senior debut; 10 years ago, of course, he scored his first ever Barclays Premier League goal, bending a wonderful effort past Arsenal's David Seaman to announce his arrival.
Rooney's emergence a decade ago came at a time when Everton were emerging from a spell in the doldrums and he was seen as the shining light who would lead them into a brave new era. That moved on within two years to Manchester United still leaves many Evertonians with a bitter taste.
He could have been spoken about in the same reverential terms that are reserved for Sharp, Gray and Steven, Kendall, Ball and Harvey, as he had a talent to span the ages. Rooney was destined to play for one of Europe's superpowers but it is argued he could have stayed a Blue a little longer.
Without Rooney, Everton's development has not been checked. In the eight years since he left for Old Trafford, David Moyes and Bill Kenwright have worked in tandem to take the club forward and this year they are dark horses to push for a Champions League spot.
Magic moment: Rooney burst onto the scene with that memorable goal against Arsenal
Wayne's world: Rooney celebrates victory over the Gunners
Rooney, meanwhile, has collected a haul
of medals that his talent deserve and he is still young enough to become
England's all-time leading scorer. He is a fantastic player and will
continue to play an integral role for United.
But what happens a couple of years down the line Would there ever be a time in the future when Rooney pulls on a Royal Blue shirt again He wanted to this summer but a pre-season friendly with United against Barcelona prevented him playing in Tony Hibber's testimonial.
'It says everything about Wayne that he was willing to do that,' said Hibbert at the time. 'He probably would have got a bad reception but he is not fazed about that. He loves Everton. Deep down he is still an Evertonian. I know for a fact the still goes to (Everton) games.
'He will do anything for Everton. It was a great honour for me that he wanted to play in the game. I was surprised when he asked whether he could play and if I would like him to. I jumped at the chance but obviously he has other commitments.
When asked whether finishing his career at Goodison was possible, Hibbert said: 'I think it is. If Wayne says it, then I think the club would be stupid not to welcome him back. I think there would be a few moans but for us to get a player like Wayne Rooney would be massive.'
There has been a noticeable softening
towards Rooney from some Evertonians in recent years and his every
touch when he returns to Goodison does not generate the same growling as
it did in the seasons that followed his departure. He is also far more
diplomatic when celebrating United goals.
Never say never: Rooney's links with the blue half of Liverpool run deep – a bedroom window at his old house was adorned with Toffees memorabilia
here is the question: could there ever be a reunion It will not happen
any time soon but, if the prospect were to arise in the future, it is
something both parties would certainly explore.
To adapt the line from that famous t-shirt: Once a Blue… once more a Blue