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with Matt Allen

HarperSport An imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers 7785 Fulham Palace Road, Hammersmith, London W6 8JB www.harpercollins.co.uk First published by HarperCollinsPublishers 2012 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 Wayne Rooney 2012 Wayne Rooney asserts the moral right to be identied as the author of this work A catalogue record of this book is available from the British Library HB ISBN 978-0-00-724263-4 PB ISBN 978-0-00-747652-7 Printed and bound in Great Britain by Clays Ltd, St Ives plc All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publishers.

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INTRODUCTION
77 MINUTES, 19 SECONDS
Bang! Everything goes dead mad, dead quick. Then that feeling kicks in an unbelievable feeling of satisfaction that I get from scoring a goal in the Premier League. Like the sensation I get whenever Ive smashed a golf ball ush off the face of the club and watched it trickle onto the green. Its a high a mad rush of power. Its a wave of emotion but it takes me over like nothing else. This feeling of putting one away for Manchester United is huge, selsh, nuts. I reckon if I could bottle the buzz, Id be able to make the best energy drink ever. A heartbeat later and Im at normal speed again, Im coming round. Everythings in focus: the sound, a roar loud enough to hurt my ears, like a plane taking off; the aching in my legs,

WAYNE ROONEY: MY DECADE IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE

the sweat running down my neck, the mud on my kit. Theres more and more noise; its so big, its right on top of me. Someones grabbing at my shirt, my hearts banging out of my chest. The crowd are singing my name: Rooney! Rooney! Rooooo-neeee! And theres no better feeling in the world. Then I look up and see the scoreboard.

12 FEBRUARY 2011 United 2 GOAL! Rooney, 77 minutes

City 1

Who I am and what Ive done comes back to me in a rush, a hit, like a boxer coming round after a sniff of smelling salts. Im Wayne Rooney. Ive played Premier League football since 2002 and Ive just scored the winning goal in a Manchester derby probably the most important game of the season to fans from the red half of town. A goal that puts our noisy neighbours, the other lot, in their place. A goal that reminds them that United have more history and more success than they do right now. A goal that warns the rest of the country that were on our way to winning another Premier League title. The best goal of my career.

INTRODUCTION

As I stand with my arms spread wide, head back, I can feel the hate coming from the City fans in the stand behind me, its like static electricity. The abuse, the screaming and swearing, is bouncing off me. Theyre sticking their ngers up at me, red-faced. Theyve all got a cob on, but I dont give a toss. I know how much they hate me, how angry they are; I can understand where theyre coming from though, because I go through the same emotions whenever I lose at anything. This time, theyre wound up and Im not. I know it doesnt get any better than this. Ive bagged hundreds of goals during my time in the Premier League with United and Everton; goals in league games, cup games, cup finals, meaningless friendlies, practice games in training. But this one is extra special. As I jog back to the centre circle, still tingling, I go into rewind. Its ridiculous, I know, but Im worried I might never feel this way again. I want to remember whats just happened, to relive the moment over and over because it feels so good. We were under pressure, I know that, the game level at 11, really tight. In the seconds before the goal, I try to lay a return pass back to my strike partner, Dimitar Berbatov a ringer for Andy Garcia in The Godfather Part III; dangerous like Andy Garcia in The Godfather Part III but my touch is heavy. I overhit it. My heart jumps into my mouth. City can break from here. Luckily, Paul Scholes ginger lad, low centre of gravity, the fella we call SatNav because his passes seem almost

WAYNE ROONEY: MY DECADE IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE

computer controlled, probably the best midelder ever to play in the Premier League scoops up the loose ball and plays it out to our winger, Nani, on the edge of the box. He takes a couple of touches, guiding the ball with his toes, gliding over the grass more like a dancer off Strictly Come Dancing than a footy player, and curls a pass over the top of the City defence towards me, his cross deecting off a defender, taking some speed off it. I see a space opening up in the penalty area. Citys two man-mountain centre-halves, Joleon Lescott and Vincent Kompany, move and get ready for the incoming pass. I run into a few yards of space, guessing where the ball will land. My senses are all over the place. Its hard to explain to someone whos never played the game or felt the pressure of performing in front of a big crowd before, but playing football at Old Trafford is like running around in a bubble. Its really intense, claustrophobic. I can smell the grass, I can hear the crowd, but I cant make out whats being sung. Everythings mufed, like when Im underwater in the swimming baths: I can hear the shouting and splashing from everyone around me in the pool, but nothings clear, I cant pick out any one voice. I cant really hear what people are yelling. Its the same on the pitch. I can hear certain sounds when the game slows down for a moment or two, like when Im taking a corner or free-kick and theres a strange rumble of 20,000 spring-loaded seats thwacking back in a section of the ground behind me as I stand over the ball, everyone on

INTRODUCTION

their feet, craning their necks to watch. But its never long before the mufed noise comes over again. Then Im back underwater. Back in the bubble. The balls coming my way. The deection has changed the shape of Nanis pass, sending it higher than I thought, which buys me an extra second to shift into position and re-adjust my balance, to think: Im having a go at this. My legs are knackered, but I use all the strength I have to spring from the back of my heels, swinging my right leg over my left shoulder in mid-air to bang the cross with an overhead kick, an acrobatic volley. Its an all or nothing hit that I know will make me look really stupid if I spoon it. But I dont. I make good contact with the ball and it res into the top corner; I feel it, but I dont see it. As I twist in mid-air, trying to follow the ight of my shot, I cant see where the ball has gone, but the sudden roar of noise tells me Ive scored. I roll over and see Joe Hart, Citys goalkeeper, rooted to the spot, his arms spread wide in disbelief, the ball bobbling and spinning in the net behind him. If playing football is like being underwater, then scoring a goal feels like coming up for air. I can see and hear it all, clear as anything. Faces in the crowd, thousands and thousands of them shouting and smiling, climbing over one another. Grown men jumping up and down like little kids. Children screaming with proper passion, ags waving. Every image is razor sharp. I see the colour of the stewards bibs in the stands. I can see banners

WAYNE ROONEY: MY DECADE IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE

hanging from the Stretford End: For Every Manc A Religion; One Love. Its like going from black and white to colour; standard to high-denition telly at a push of the remote. Everyone is going mental in the crowd; they think the game is just about won. From nearly giving the ball away to smashing a winning goal into the top corner: its scary how ne the margins are in top-ight footy. The difference between winning and losing is on a knife edge a lot of the time. Thats why its the best game in the world. ***** We close out the game 21. Everyone gathers round me in the dressing room afterwards, they want to talk about the goal. But Im wrecked, done in, Ive got nothing left; its all out there on the pitch, along with that overhead kick. The room is buzzing; Rio Ferdinand is buzzing. Wow, he says. Patrice Evra, our full-back, calls it beautiful. Then The Manager comes into the dressing room, his big black coat on; he looks made up, excited. The man who has shouted, screamed and yelled from the Old Trafford touchlines for over a quarter of a century; the man who has managed and inspired some of the greatest players in Premier League history. The man who signed me for the biggest club in the world. The most successful club boss in the modern game.

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He walks round to all of us and shakes our hands like he does after every win. Its been like this since the day I signed for United. Thankfully Ive had a lot of handshakes. He lets on to me. That was magnicent, Wayne, that was great. I nod; Im too tired to speak, but I wouldnt say anything if I could. Dont get me wrong, theres nothing better than The Manager saying well done but I dont need it. I know when Ive played well and when Ive played badly. I dont think, If The Manager says Ive played well, Ive played well. I know in my heart whether I have or I havent. Then he makes out that its the best goal hes ever seen at Old Trafford. He should know, hes been around the club long enough and seen plenty of great goalscorers come and go during his time. The Manager is in charge of everything and he controls the players at Manchester United emotionally and physically. Before the game he reads out the teamsheet and I sometimes get that same weird, nervous feeling I used to get whenever the coach of the school team pinned the starting XI to the noticeboard. During a match, if were a goal down but playing well, he tells us to keep going. He knows an equaliser is coming. He talks us into winning. Then again, Ive known us to be winning by two or three goals at halftime and hes gone nuts when weve sat down in the dressing room. Were winning. Whats up with him? Then I cotton on.

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WAYNE ROONEY: MY DECADE IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE

He doesnt want us to be complacent. Like most managers he appreciates good football, but he appreciates winners more. His desire to win is greater than in anyone Ive ever known, and it rubs off on all of us. The funny thing is, I think were quite similar. We both have a massive determination to succeed and that has a lot to do with our upbringing as kids we were told that if we wanted to do well wed have to ght for it and graft. Thats the way I was brought up; I think it was the way he was brought up, too. And when we win something, like a Premier League title or the Champions League trophy, were stubborn enough to hang onto that success. Thats why we work so hard, so we can be the best for as long as possible. Everyone begins to push and shove around a small telly in the corner of the room. Its been sitting there for years and the coaches always turn it on to replay the game whenever theres been a controversial incident or maybe a penalty shout that hasnt been given and theres been a few of those, as The Manager will probably tell anyone who wants to listen. This time, I want to see my goal. Everyone does. One of the coaches grabs the controls and forwards the action to the 77th minute. I see my heavy touch, Scholesys pass to Nani. I see his cross. Then I watch, like its a weird out of body experience, as I throw myself up in the air and thump the ball into the back of the net. It doesnt seem real. I reckon all footballers go to bed and dream about scoring great goals: dribbling the ball around six players and

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INTRODUCTION

popping it over the goalkeeper, or smashing one in from 25 yards. Scoring from a bicycle kick is one Ive always fantasised about. Ive just scored a dream goal in a Manchester derby. Wow, says Rio, for the second time, shaking his head. I know what he means. I sit in the dressing room, still sweating, trying to live in the moment for as long as I can because these moments are so rare. I can still hear the United fans singing outside, giving it to the City lot, and I wonder if Ill ever score a goal as good as that again. ***** Ive played in the Premier League for 10 years now. Im probMy Decade In The Premier League. ably in the middle of my career, which feels weird. The time now has own by so quickly. buy It does my head in a little, but I still reckon my best years are ahead of me, that theres plenty more to come. It only seems like ve minutesebook ago that I was making my debut for Everton against Tottenham in August 2002. The Spurs fans were tucked away in one end of Goodison Park. When I ran onto the pitch they started singing at me: Who are ya? Whenever I touched the ball: Who are ya?

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