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Thursday 19 October 2017

Wayne Rooney insists Everton is no retirement home as he eyes England recall

Wayne Rooney is back at Everton
Wayne Rooney is back at Everton

Wayne Rooney insists Everton is not a retirement home for him to play out the remainder of his career as he is keen to force his way back into England reckoning.

The 31-year-old completed an emotional return to his boyhood club after a 13-year, trophy-laden spell at Manchester United, but he has no intention of wallowing in the sentimentality of a move which he admits delighted his family, primarily his dad Wayne snr and eldest son Kai.

Rooney left Old Trafford as United's all-time leading scorer - a title he also holds for the national team - but returns to Goodison with a burning desire to bring success to a club whose last trophy was the FA Cup in 1995.

"I think I always play like I have got a point to prove," he said.

"I am not coming into a retirement home. I am ready to play, I want to win, I want to be successful at this football club.

"It is too long (without a trophy). I feel the club are moving in the right direction. We will all pull together and make sure we give everything to do it.

"I am focused on playing well for Everton. If I do that then (England manager) Gareth Southgate will have a decision to make whether he puts me back in the squad.

"Hopefully my performances will be good enough for Everton and he won't be able to ignore me."

Over the last 12 months Rooney has been written off having struggled to get in Manchester United's starting line-up under Jose Mourinho and, as a consequence, losing his England place to younger players.

In January he was linked with a move to the Chinese Super League and - although that did not materialise - Rooney realised, with his 32nd birthday approaching in October, he had to start looking elsewhere for regular football.

"It hadn't gone stale (at United). I enjoyed my time there but I needed to play more games," he added.

"I didn't play that often last season. I know I am at my best when I am playing games consistently.

"It is obviously frustrating. My whole career I have played and it was the first time I didn't play and I was on the bench. It is not me, I need to play football.

"Obviously I was the captain of Manchester United so you need to keep yourself positive and make sure you are not bringing negativity to the dressing room.

"Some people will accept not playing and playing every few weeks but that is not me.

"I spoke with Jose and I knew it was the right time to leave and go and play somewhere else and I firmly believe Everton is the right club to do that.

"Of course there were other options but once I knew Ronald wanted to bring me back it was the only place I was going to play my football."

Asked whether he ever thought he would play for Everton again - having briefly donned the blue shirt for Duncan Ferguson's testimonial at Goodison Park in 2015 - Rooney added: "You never know in football. I never thought about that much.

"It is when I was at the stage in my career thinking of my next step and then speaking to Ronald, I knew it was where I needed to be.

"It is a challenge which is the right time in my career."

Part of Rooney's problem at Old Trafford, and to a lesser extent with England, was a loss of pace diluting his effectiveness as a striker and the added complication of a failed experiment as a midfielder.

He claims his role at Everton has yet to be defined and it is up to him to impress manager Ronald Koeman.

"That is something which you will have to wait and see," he said.

"The big thing was coming back here to play. The manager will assess the training sessions and make his decision from there."

Koeman, however, was giving nothing away about where Rooney fits into a team in which the arrivals of Sandro Ramirez and attacking midfielder Davy Klaassen add more competition for Rooney even taking into account Romelu Lukaku's departure to United.

"Obviously everyone knows the qualities of Wayne. It is trying to get that productivity," said the Dutchman.

"We spoke about last season and he is really that striker, and a player with those qualities can play out of different positions offensively.

"He can be the 10 behind the striker, he can have the free role off the left, he can be the nice, be the seven. Those are the positions where Wayne will play."

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