As a Liverpool supporter, Wayne Rooney has my grudging respect

I am a fan of Liverpool Football Club the same way that Sudhir Kumar Chaudhary is a fan of Sachin Tendulkar. I just stop short of painting my body red with the liverbird upon my chest and traveling to every Liverpool match, but maybe I’d do so if I could. Point is, I like this club, a lot.

Simply by that count, I should technically despise Wayne Rooney. The 31 year old Manchester United striker has just made the move back to the club that United bought him from as an 18 year old – Everton – Liverpool’s inter-city rivals, and has said that he’s there to help the club grow and win trophies. I would like nothing more than for that to not happen. For the un-initiated, supporting Liverpool simultaneously means that there shall forever be a visceral hatred for anything or anyone associated with either Manchester United or Everton, and vice-versa. They are the reds’ two biggest rivals in the Premier League.

But here’s the thing – I still felt happy that he completed the move back to his boyhood club. I felt happy that the last few years of Rooney’s career will still see him playing in one of the best leagues in the world. This was the ideal ‘full-circle’ moment in a footballer’s career. And I felt all those things simply because of how good a player Wayne Rooney was at his peak. As England and Manchester United’s all-time leading goal scorer, there should be no doubts about his quality. When he was breaking on to the scene, Arsene Wenger called him the biggest English talent he had ever seen. The kind of career he went on to have stands testimony to that.

Rooney’s relationship with Liverpool

Wayne Rooney would be the first person to admit that he wishes he performed better against Liverpool through his career. He has scored six times against the reds, most recently in a winning cause for Manchester United two seasons ago. However, he hasn’t made the fixture his own like some players in the past, like Steven Gerrard or Fernando Torres. It is a little known fact that Rooney was actually once trialed with Liverpool before he was picked up by Everton before he even became a teenager. Speaking about going for the trial wearing his Everton colours, Rooney has said –

“I didn’t hit it off with the Liverpool coaches. They were a bit funny towards me. Perhaps it had something to do with wearing the Everton colours. I didn’t wear the Everton shirt as a defiant gesture. I just always wore it. After school, I lived in my Everton shirt.”

With Rooney himself admitting that had Liverpool made an offer for him before Everton, he might have been a ‘red’, it begs the question – would me, and millions of 0ther Liverpool supporters have liked him at the club. There is only one answer. Yes, in a heartbeat. For had that happened, we might have been saved from seeing this –

So, with grudging admiration and respect, I wish Rooney all the best for his stint with Everton. Barring the two annual fixtures against Liverpool, of course.

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