Wayne Rooney to join Derby as player-coach in January
The pressures of living in America, away from friends and loved ones, have been the driving force behind Rooney and his family’s return to the UK - SSN has been told
By Joe Shread
Last Updated: 06/08/19 6:08pm
Wayne Rooney has agreed to join Derby as a player-coach in January on an initial 18-month contract.
The 33-year-old will complete the current MLS season with DC United, which will finish no later than November, before making his return to English football.
Rooney, who has spoken in the past of his desire to work as a manager when his playing career ends, will work predominantly with the academy players progressing towards the first team in his role as a coach at Derby.
He said: "I am very excited about the opportunity that Derby have provided me with. I am looking forward to joining Phillip Cocu, his coaching staff and the first-team squad from the start of January.
"I am sure I can make a big contribution and can't wait to meet everyone, especially the supporters. I am equally excited to begin my coaching career at Derby working with both the first team and academy.
"I must also take this opportunity to thank DC United, their owners, executives and supporters who have been superb to work with. I want them to know that I will give my all in support of our push for the play-offs."
Derby, who have given Rooney the No 32 shirt, have the option to extend his deal by a further 12 months.
After securing the signing of England and Manchester United's record goalscorer, Derby boss Phillip Cocu said: "Wayne Rooney is an extremely talented and top-class footballer.
"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.
"It is entirely in keeping with, and in support of, the club's philosophy and approach. I am looking forward to working with Wayne from the start of next year and welcoming him to the club."
Rooney has scored 25 goals in 46 games for DC since signing just over a year ago, but they acknowledged allowing him to depart was the right decision.
Co-chairmen Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien said: "After speaking to Wayne and understanding his difficult situation of being so far away from his family, we have accepted that this is the best decision for all parties."
Why did Rooney want to return to the UK?
The pressures of living in America, away from friends and loved ones, have been the driving force behind Wayne Rooney and his family's return to the UK.
Wife Coleen has struggled to settle into life in the US capital and last month Rooney was given what DC United manager Ben Olsen called "a mental and physical break" from the MLS campaign adding there were "signs of wear and tear" as the 33-year-old entered his second year at Audi Field.
During his break back at their Cheshire home, Sky Sports News understands Rooney and Coleen agreed that life for them and their four young children would be better back in the UK.
Keen to find a quick solution to an unexpected problem, Rooney's agent Paul Stretford set about exploring new challenges back in England, leading to Tuesday's extraordinary developments in Derby.
On the field, Rooney has been worth every penny of his two-and-a-half-year, £10.7m deal, lifting DC United from the bottom of their league to the play-offs, scoring 23 goals in 42 games.
However, off the field, life has proven to be more of a challenge. Rooney was arrested in January after being drunk on a flight and he was detained at Dulles Airport in Virginia, for public intoxication and swearing.
Keen not to let DC United down, Rooney agreed a financial deal with club officials guaranteeing he would stay until the end of the campaign - which could stretch to November - but insisting there was no transfer fee for Derby to pay.
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