Wayne Rooney was easily the best import of the last 25 seasons

Wayne Rooney (Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Wayne Rooney (Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Football is a subjective game, and for many, Wayne Rooney lit the league up in a unique way

Wayne Rooney is one of the greatest to ever do it. What makes him so fantastic for me, is the occasional lack of appreciation for him. That ever so awkward moment of forgetting just how good Rooney was.

The man is and always was a tenacious footballer with as much skill as he had grit and determination. If you ever watched Rooney, you know that’s a lot of skill, grit, and determination. He quickly became pivotal to Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United side as a teenager. Winning multiple titles and cups with United as well as scoring some of the most insane goals my eyes have ever seen.

In fact, Wayne Rooney is still going strong. He’s currently a player-manager for Derby County. A historic club now in England’s second tier of professional football. He’s played 11 times this season so far, scoring 1. And his increased management role in the club is now starting to turn their poor league form around!

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Right, onto the MLS talk. Rooney left Manchester United in 2017. He returned home to his boyhood club, Everton, where he spent a season there before landing at another United. D.C. United.

The English forward, recently more a midfielder, featured 43 times for D.C. United, scoring 23 goals. One of those goals, arguably as good as the recently awarded  ‘Greatest MLS Goal Ever’ recorded by Swedish ego-star Zlatan Ibrahimovic. However, I based that off the distance of the hit, which was 68 yards, and not the context or importance of the goal.

Zlatan’s strike was phenomenal, don’t get me wrong. Contextually far more important. Sometimes goals can be accelerated to the top of the best goals list just due to the magnitude of the strike or finish. For reference, look at a majority of the goals scored by Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur during the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League campaign. Specifically, Moura’s third goal at Ajax in the 95th minute, and Origi’s finish from Trent’s “corner taken quickly”.

Zlatan made his debut at home to LA FC, in front of 27,000, in what’s dubbed the El Trafico Derby. At 3-2 down at home, Zlatan scored his first of what would be two crucial goals in the derby. A half-volley struck from 35 yards, perfectly hit on the bounce. Looping endlessly, clearing LA FC keeper Tyler Miller and cascading into the bottom of the net. The Galaxy 3, LA 3, with now only 13 minutes plus stoppage time to play.

A goal of significance and beauty. Without a doubt, too. A glorious strike to pull his new side back into the derby. To tee himself up to then score a stoppage-time winner. All on his debut with The Galaxy. Although, let me remind you of my personal rival to this cracking goal.

In a game that maybe didn’t mean as much to the neutral, Wayne Rooney did something we’ve seen Wayne Rooney do a few times. Rooney chased down a counter-attack from Orlando, one that began from a D.C United corner. He sprinted full pelt to halt what would’ve been a long-range effort to towards an un-occupied goal, as the D.C. Keeper had traveled up the pitch for the corner at 2-2.

Rooney won the ball back with a perfectly-timed tackle, carried the ball 15 yards forward, before doing his best David Beckham impression. He sent a ball curling from eye-watering range towards the back post, where Acosta drove in to head it home to complete his hat-trick and give D.C United a 96th-minute winner. Glorious.

That is Wayne Rooney. Tireless on a football pitch. He scored some mouth-watering goals for D.C United. He captured hearts at a unique club comparatively to where foreign stars usually end up in the MLS. For me, it does come down to a straight shoot-out between Beckham, Rooney, and Zlatan to decide who has been the best star import to the league in its 25 years so far. Of course, we can give honourable shout-outs to David Villa, Kaka, Robbie Keane, Frank Lampard, and Steven Gerrard.

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But, those first three names all just felt unique to the typical final call superstars. Wayne Rooney seemed like he was at the end, and yet, he brought so much of what we’ve known from Rooney in his prime. That famous work rate and desire to win. He’s my pick for an award I’ve just today made up.