FORT LAUDERDALE - Wayne Rooney's younger brother John began his American adventure on Monday with a goal in the Major League Soccer pre-draft trials after choosing to switch his career to the States.
The 20-year-old sibling of the Manchester United and England striker has been open about the fact that he sees a move to North America as a way to make his career "just me" rather than face constant comparisons with his brother in England.
That may prove to be a forlorn hope, given the growing Stateside interest in English soccer and the huge support for United, but the former Macclesfield Town midfielder says there are other attractions.
"The standard of football plus the lifestyle is good too," the quietly spoken Liverpudlian told Reuters on Monday.
"I've watched plenty of (MLS) games since I began thinking of coming over, loads of games, I think it is a great league," he said.
A confidently struck goal from the edge of the penalty area on a field which is the only international standard cricket venue in the U.S. was the first step Rooney took in a hectic week.
Rooney has signed a deal with MLS which puts him into this week's draft where teams take turns to pick the best of this year's college talents plus a smattering of foreign recruits.
The process, which is in keeping with North American practices in the NFL, basketball and baseball, also involves a four-day trial involving three matches.
"It's pretty tricky but we had a game to get to know each other and it showed today that we have got to know each other pretty well and it's good to get on the scoresheet," he said.
Rooney's journey from the English lower divisions to Florida began with training sessions with two clubs last year.
"I came over in August and trained with Seattle and Portland and I just thought it was the right time in my career to come over and I've loved every minute of it over here and I think it's fantastic," he said.
The Portland Timbers, new to MLS in 2011, will have the second pick in the draft after another 'expansion team', the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Timbers head coach John Spencer, the former Chelsea and Scotland striker, was not in charge of the North-West club when Rooney came over but said the midfielder made a good impression.
"He came in and everyone was pretty impressed by him with his attitude and work-rate, it can be hard having that name following around with you," he told Reuters.
"When I played at Houston we had (former Liverpool player Kenny Dalglish's son) Paul Dalglish. I know Paul really well and we had the same problem with his history but we just looked at him as Paul.
"He was a good player in his own right. It the same story with young John, I hope someone ends up picking him in the draft and he gets a good career for himself over here."
Rooney knows his name will shift shirts but with the media certain to draw comparisons, he will not be able to escape the constant reminders of his brother's fame.
"I am used to it by now. I am my own man and so I have got to go out on the field and perform week in week out. I've got to do it myself, I've got no-one else to help me apart from my team-mates.
"The lads here have been great they just treat me as me, nothing else, that's the way it should be - I am my own person."comments