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Wayne Rooney to join Derby County as player-coach in 2020

Wayne Rooney is officially heading back to England.

After being linked with a move to EFL Championship side Derby County in a player-coach role, D.C. United announced the news on Tuesday that Rooney will join them in January 2020, after the 2019 MLS season ends. Rooney will make the move to be closer to his family in England.

The 34-year-old has registered 23 goals and 14 assists in 43 appearances across two seasons. Rooney’s arrival last season helped spark the club to an Eastern Conference playoff berth and also a current fourth-place spot in the current league table. Although he’s leaving the club after the season, Rooney will become a club ambassador for D.C. United.

“I remain fully focused on giving my all for the team for the rest of this season and repaying the support shown by the Black-and-Red faithful by hopefully delivering an MLS Cup to Audi Field,” Rooney said. “My time in Major League Soccer is something I will always be proud of. The supporters in the Screaming Eagles, Barra Brava, and District Ultras have made my time in America so enjoyable.

“While the decision to move home was a tough one, family is everything to us and we make this change to be closer to the ones we love back in England. The opportunity to go back home and start the next step of my career in coaching was the factor that made my mind up.”

Rooney’s former England National Team teammate Frank Lampard recently was in charge of the Rams last season, leading them to a place in the EFL Championship Playoff Final. Derby, however, would lose 2-1 to Aston Villa and Lampard departed the club this summer to take over at his former club Chelsea.

“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,”¬†Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien, D.C. United Co-Chairmen, said.¬†“Our main focus now is the 2019 MLS Season and ensuring we make a push towards the playoffs with the ultimate goal of bringing an MLS Cup back to the District.

“Wayne is an exceptional leader and one of the most iconic players to play the game so we look forward to his continued contributions to the team this season.”

Rooney will work under new Derby manager Phillip Cocu, who won his first game in charge of the club yesterday 2-1 at Huddersfield Town.

D.C. United currently has nine regular-season matches left, beginning with an Aug. 10th date with the L.A. Galaxy at Audi Field. They are coming off a 5-1 hammering at the hands of the Philadelphia Union on Sunday.


    • I know…These articles on this subject are crazy the only thing that matters is how much DC gets and that hasn’t been reported yet. Maybe they just get rid of an aging Rooney and his salary….but still the most important piece is what they get.

    • He still has a year on his contract so they will be getting something for him.
      DC needs to rake them over the coals and get paid on this one. Rooney was their only marketing strategy.

      • transfermarkt had him under contract through 2021 but it might be one of those 2+1+1 deals with option years at the end. in which case if they call this a “pre-signing” of a player (we would be withing 6 months of an option perhaps), as opposed to tampering with a coach under contract, they maybe get away with it and owe DC nothing. it all feels sketchy in the sense that they just announced Cocu in July. but if Rooney can decline an option and go home i think it’s technically legal. or maybe they paid, but i think that would be announced, it usually is.

  1. Bwhaha. First you get smoked by Philly at home…AND get used as a platform to rail against Congress…now this?? Not looking good DC…not looking good.

  2. why can’t this be announced after the playoffs? this serves Derby’s interests and not ours. DC finally turns its team around and we’ll have this narrative as a cross-wind in the playoffs (assuming). kind of like when your coach says he’s retiring after the season, while it’s still going. i think that brings attention. i think that rarely ends with the team succeeding. why not leave the focus on the team and then exercise your option when the season is done. he won’t be coaching there for half a year. this is their publicity boon and not ours.

    • Spot on, your are right, no reason why this couldnt be announced until after the season.

      The silver lining is that hopefully DC got good $ for him.
      And perhaps the timing is perfect as he turns 35.
      Get 2 solid seasons out of Rooney, build momentum in DC, and gain profit.
      Can’t say that often about these aging euro stars.

      PS – the player/coach thing, its a way to scam the financial fair play regulations in the Championship. Half the salary will come from the “coaching” budget.

    • I think you answered your own question.
      That being said, with as rushed as Rooney’s presser seemed to be I think they were trying to keep it under wraps. That is no longer really possible any more though.

      • i get what you’re saying in the vague sense of cat out of the bag, but someone specific is releasing that cat early, because they just hired cocu, and rooney is here til they are eliminated, so there is no hurry. derby and/or rooney wanted that cat out of the bag now and not in december. I think DC might want to be internally aware now that they need a replacement this winter — heck, they might have wanted to know this summer — but in terms of chasing position, building a team, keeping the fans enthused, not as helpful. i don’t think DC chose the timing. last thing DC wanted was turn around the team finally in a new playpen and then The Franchise figuratively ups stakes and heads back to England already before the playoffs even start. has to take some air out of the balloon.

      • the comparison i would make is this. Houston broke from the gates well this spring but that may have been an early home schedule figment. but in any case, there has been conflict with Quioto over playing time, and we declined offers for Elis and Manotas. i don’t know if it helps if the key guy(s) are one foot out the door (or upset at not being sold), and then that disrupts the supporting cast who may be energized by having them around, and the air goes out of the balloon.

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