He arrived at Old Trafford 12 years ago this month as a pugnacious teenager. When Wayne Rooney walked out at Old Trafford for his testimonial on Wednesday night, he was the man in every sense.
Captain of Manchester United, captain of his country for now, and father of three boys – Kai, Klay and Kit – who joined him on the walk out of the tunnel to an ovation from the United fans and those of his old club Everton, Rooney has come a long way. He is England’s record scorer and soon to be United’s as well.
There have been a few bumps along the way, not least the two times when he came close to leaving Old Trafford before signing a new contract, but few would dispute that he has lived up to expectations since making that £30million move from Merseyside in 2004.
Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney applauds his fans as he is replaced after 53 minutes of his testimonial match
Rooney (right) is congratulated by Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho as he makes his way off the Old Trafford pitch
Everton midfielder Gareth Barry tries to stop Rooney in his tracks as the two Premier League clubs gear up for the new season
Manchester United teenager Marcus Rashford came off the bench to replace Rooney with 37 minutes still left on the clock
Zlatan Ibrahimovic lets out a roar after squandering a chance to break the deadlock in Rooney's testimonial match
MANCHESTER UNITED XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea (Romero 66mins); Valencia (Darmian 66), Bailly (Jones 46), Blind (Mata 66), Shaw (Rojo 46); Carrick (Schneiderlin 46), Herrera (Fellaini 46); Lingard (Mkhitaryan 46), Rooney (Rashford 53), Martial (Young 46); Ibrahimovic (Depay 66)
Subs not used: Johnstone
EVERTON XI (3-5-1-1): Stekelenburg (Robles 46); Funes Mori, Stones, Holgate (Besic 66, Davies 77); Coleman, McCarthy (Kone 66), Barry (Cleverley 66), Barkley (Oviedo 66), Baines (Lennon 66); Deulofeu (Mirallas 47); Lukaku (Gibson 66)
Subs not used: Galloway, Hewelt
Referee: Michael Oliver
As an occasion to celebrate more than a decade of goals and glory, this was perhaps not the most thrilling of nights. But Rooney the fierce competitor would have welcomed the fact that both United and Everton treated the game as a full-scale warm-up for the new season as they fielded strong line-ups and cancelled each other out in a game of few chances.
Jose Mourinho’s team face champions Leicester in the Community Shield at Wembley on Sunday ahead of the start of the new Premier League season, and it was an opportunity for him to give the senior players who missed the club’s tour of China another run-out following Saturday’s win over Galatasaray in Gothenburg.
It meant home debuts for new signings Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Eric Bailly, with Henrik Mkhitaryan coming on as a second-half substitute. Mourinho, too, was making his first appearance in the Old Trafford dugout, having sidestepped the task of coaching an England XI here at Soccer Aid in June after his appointment was confirmed.
The Portuguese coach stood in the technical area for most of the match but, interestingly, kept returning to a seat at ground level alongside his backroom staff, preferring the viewpoint they had at Chelsea to the elevated dugout at Old Trafford.
Everton also used the game as serious preparation for the new season with their new manager Ronald Koeman naming a strong line-up following their involvement in the Dresden Cup last weekend.
John Stones played at the heart of back-three but is likely to become a more permanent fixture in Manchester if City can strike a compromise deal with Everton for the England defender. Koeman could lose another player for the start of the season if a second-half injury to substitute Muhamed Besic is as bad as it first appeared.