LONDON – Wayne Rooney believes he left Manchester United at the right time, even though he wanted to finish his career at Old Trafford.
The 33-year-old, who is set to make his final England appearance against the United States in a friendly international at Wembley on Thursday, is now playing for North American club side DC United in Major League Soccer.
But there is no denying his place in United's history books, with Rooney the club's leading goal-scorer in a career that also saw him win five Premier League titles, the Champions League, Europa League, FA Cup and three League Cups with the Red Devils.
In total, Rooney made 559 appearances for United from 2004-2017 after joining from boyhood club Everton.
But he started a mere seven of the final 19 Premier League appearances of his United career, with Rooney no longer a first-choice player under manager Jose Mourinho.
Rooney returned to Everton before leaving English club football completely when he joined DC United earlier this year.
"Of course you miss it," he told MUTV, United's in-house television station, of his time at Old Trafford.
"It was the highlight of my career, playing for Man United and I was there for so long. But it was the right time.
"I wasn't playing, first of all. I have always been a player who wants to play," he added. "Obviously I spoke to the manager (Mourinho) and it didn't look like I was going to play, so it was the right decision and the right time for me to go.
"Obviously, you wish, the ideal situation was staying there and finishing your career there, but football changes. Different things happen and things happen for a reason."
Rooney was denied the kind of United farewell he is set to enjoy with England as his last appearance for the club was as a substitute against Dutch side Ajax in a Europa League victory,
"It would have been nice to have done it at Old Trafford," he said. "But I have been back there a few times and I will be back over the Christmas period, at a game to watch them.
"I left with great memories. I had a new opportunity to go and play in the States. I had a great time at United, though, and again I am looking forward to going back and seeing a few of my team-mates, and a few friends from the staff who I have made along the way.
"The fans have been brilliant to me and it will be nice to see a few familiar faces when I go to a game over Christmas," Rooney added.
Agence France-Presse (AFP)