LONDON – Former England captain Wayne Rooney said Derby County’s ambition to get back to the top-flight of English football was the reason he is heading home from the United States next January.
The 33-year-old striker, the record goal-scorer for both England and Manchester United, will join the Championship side from January, once the season with MLS side DC United is completed.
Rooney signed an 18-month contract as player-coach on Tuesday, with an option for a further year, and will also join the coaching staff under manager Phillip Cocu.
“Derby is a club with great ambitions, and they are trying to take the next step,” Rooney told a press conference on Tuesday.
“I felt it was a place I could come and use my experience to help them achieve their goals.
“The squad is good, and I’m sure the manager will try and get some more good players in.”
Cocu said Rooney still had plenty to offer as a player.
“Wayne Rooney is an extremely talented and top-class footballer,” Cocu told the club’s website.
“It is an exciting prospect for him to be joining Derby County, and he can bring so much to this squad, both on and off the pitch.
“He has enjoyed a wonderful career, both in club football and for England, and he still has so much to give as well.
“His credentials speak for themselves. But to have a player with his leadership, skill, experience, character and work ethic will be huge for us.
“He knows what it takes to succeed as a player, and I have no doubt he will have a positive impact right across the club.”
Rooney also said the move home would be good for his children.
“We’ve got four young boys and certainly for my oldest, it is a crucial time in his schooling,” he said.
“The opportunity to come back here and play, and take the next transition in my career, was one of the factors. It wasn’t just about coming home.”dpa