Earlier this week saw the end of an era at Manchester United – Wayne Rooney has finally left Old Trafford after 13 seasons, during which he became a club icon and broke United’s all-time goalscoring record, hitting 253 goals in 559 matches to shatter Bobby Charlton’s long-standing achievement.
He’ll be returning to his boyhood side Everton, where he’s clearly hoping to recapture some of the magic he appears to have lost in recent seasons. Whether United fans remember him as fondly as the likes of Eric Cantona and Ryan Giggs is up in the air, but one thing is for certain – he’s left a huge legacy at Old Trafford, one that saw him score some of the most memorable – and spectacular – goals in United’s history.
Here are his five best, plus one classic honourable mention.
Honourable Mention: vs. Barcelona, May 28th 2011
This one wasn’t quite as good as the other five, but the occasion and the opposition – as well as the class Rooney showed to score it – mean it’s worth a mention anyway. It was the Champions League final in the 2010/11 season, the game was at Wembley, and United were up against arguably the greatest club side in modern history in Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering Barcelona, the side that had beaten them two years previously in the same final.
The game appeared to be going the same way as Barca dominated the opening half with their tiki-taka style, and took the lead through Pedro on 27 minutes. United – and most importantly Rooney – had an immediate answer, though. Barca lost the ball to Fabio after a throw-in, and it found its way to Michael Carrick, who played a neat one-two with Rooney.
From there the Englishman ran into the heart of the Barca defence, played another one-two with Ryan Giggs into the box and then drove the ball, right footed, beyond keeper Victor Valdes into the left-hand corner of the net. The pass to Giggs wasn’t the best and the Welshman did well to return the ball, but the finish was simply sublime.
United went on to lose the game 3-1, but Rooney’s goal was the lone beacon of hope in the game – the moment when it looked like the Red Devils could compete with Barca after all.