Sunday 26 May 2019

Wayne Rooney recalls stunning winner against Arsenal in 2002

Wayne Rooney became the Premier League's first 16-year-old scorer in 2002.
Wayne Rooney became the Premier League's first 16-year-old scorer in 2002.

Wayne Rooney was desperate to make history on the day he netted his famous strike against Arsenal in 2002 - but had been "fuming" about not making Everton's starting line-up for the game.

Having come off the bench, the Toffees forward became the Premier League's then youngest and first 16-year-old goalscorer by sending a superb late shot past David Seaman to seal a 2-1 home victory.

That was five days before Rooney's 17th birthday, and on Sunday - two days prior to his 32nd - he is set to play against the same opponents.

Regarding the match from just over 15 years ago, Rooney told The Everton Show: "I remember I was just buzzing to score my first league goal.

"I always remember thinking, 'I need to score in the Premier League before I am 17'. That was what I wanted to do, score when I was still 16 and that was the last chance I had to do it. Thankfully, Moyesy (then Everton boss David Moyes) brought me on and I got the winner.

"I was fuming before kick-off because I had played a couple of games before that and I thought I had done quite well and deserved to start.

"When I was 16 I was always confident, thought I was good enough to play and that was always part of my character as a football player - not being happy that I wasn't playing.

"Obviously when you look back you understand why they were doing it - to protect me and because of the fact you can't physically play 90 minutes of all the games.

"But I just wanted to get on the pitch and try to make an impact, and thankfully I did that day.

"It's still such an important goal for me in my career. It was a goal I will always remember."

Rooney, of course, went on to become England's record goalscorer, and Manchester United's during a 13-year spell with the Red Devils that ended over the summer.

He returned to Everton and last weekend he registered his fourth goal of the season as his late penalty earned a 1-1 draw at Brighton.

He is expected to be back in action on Sunday having been rested for Thursday's 2-1 Europa League loss to Lyon.

And when asked ahead of the Arsenal game - in which Everton will be looking for only a third win in 13 matches in all competitions - about the impact Rooney was currently having for the Toffees, boss Ronald Koeman said: "It is a big impact.

"In the games but also on the team on the training pitch, his impact with young players. It is a great example for young players.

"He is working hard to get it right for himself and also for the team. I admire the way he is on the pitch and in training, because that is the way you need to do your job."

Press Association

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