Wayne Rooney revealed a move back to England was “too great to turn down” after agreeing a deal with Championship side Derby.
The 33-year-old former England international will join the Rams as a player-coach from January and has signed an 18-month contract.
He will make the switch after seeing out the remainder of the 2019 Major League Soccer season with DC United.
“The opportunity to come back to England and play, but also to take up a coaching role with the club and work under (Derby boss) Phillip (Cocu) was too great for me to turn down,” Rooney said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“I’m delighted to be back there and I’m looking forward to being back in January to help the team try and push forward and push for promotion.”
Rooney added that while the coaching opportunity was important to him, he still feels he has plenty to offer on the pitch.
“Firstly I’m a player,” he said. “I feel I’ve got a lot of quality I can bring to the squad.
“First and foremost I’m coming to play and to help the team, and second I want to learn off Phillip and his staff, to gain experience for when I do stop playing and go on to that next step.”
Rooney said he was continuing to work on gaining his coaching qualifications, with a representative of the Football Association due to travel out to the United States next week as he progresses to the next stage.
Several of Rooney’s former England team-mates, such as ex-Derby boss Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, have already begun their management careers, but Rooney said that was not the key to his own decision.
“I think it’s great to see them going into management but it’s not just about what they’re doing now,” he said.
“This is something I always had as an ambition to do. It’s great these young English managers are getting opportunities.
“Over the last 15 or 20 years we’ve not seen so many great ex-England players coming through so it’s great to see them doing that.
“It’s something I always wanted to do when the time is right so hopefully it’s something I can move into.”
Rooney also said that Derby were not the only proposal on the table for him.
“There were other clubs making offers and enquiring about me but I made the decision to come here and that was it, I wasn’t going to go back on my decision,” he said.
“Over the last week we’ve been trying to work out a deal with DC (United) which allowed me to go back and play there and we got to that decision.
“The opportunity to work with Phillip and his staff and to come here knowing Derby is a club with great ambitions – over the last few years they’ve put a lot of money into the club to make that next step to get to the Premier League – I felt it was a place I could come to help them try and achieve their goals.”
Attracting a player of Rooney’s stature to the club will present off-field advantages and commercial opportunities and Derby executive chairman Mel Morris revealed that the Rams have already received a record-breaking shirt sponsorship deal, with Rooney set to wear number 32 – a link to the club’s main sponsor.
“This is clearly an exciting signing for us, and Wayne’s presence will further enhance the club’s standing and its ability to perform both on and off the pitch,” he said.
⚽ 359 career goals🦁 120 England caps🏆 Premier League x5🏆 League Cup x3🏆 FA Cup x1🏆 UEFA Champions League x1🏆 UEFA Europa League x1🏆 FIFA Club World Cup x1— Derby County (@dcfcofficial) August 6, 2019
“First and foremost, Wayne is joining us as a player but he will also have coaching responsibilities too, particularly around the development of our younger players progressing towards the first team from our academy, as he looks to gain his relevant qualifications for a future coaching and management career.
“Obviously, the commercial opportunities this creates are widespread and significant.
“On the back of Wayne joining the club, we have just been offered a record-breaking sponsorship deal with our principal shirt sponsor 32Red.”
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