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Wayne Rooney in action for DC United
Wayne Rooney in action for DC United

Rooney set to join Derby County as player-coach in January

The DC United forward will see out the rest of the MLS season before joining up with the Championship side.
Aug 6th 2019, 2:25 PM 3,755 5

WAYNE ROONEY HAS confirmed he will join Derby County but will not take up his role as player-coach until January.

An agreement was finalised on Tuesday after the former England captain flew into London from the United States, where he is contracted to DC United.

He will join on an initial 18-month contract until the summer of 2021, with the option of a further year.

“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 in a statement as the club confirmed he will leave at the end of 2019.

“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.

“I would like to thank everyone at DC United for the incredible support my family and I have received over my two seasons at the club.”

Rooney will become a club ambassador for DC United. 

The 33-year-old still had over two years left to run on his deal at Audi Field, but will see out the remainder of the MLS season before joining up with Phillip Cocu’s squad for the second half of their Championship campaign in the new year.

“He wants to finish the season there and of course it’s pivotal to them that they’re in [contention for] the play-offs at the moment,” Rams owner Mel Morris told Sky Sports.

“He was wanting to make sure he saw the season out.”

Derby opened talks with Rooney after learning the ex-Everton and Manchester United forward wanted to return to England.

“It stemmed from a conversation between Phillip Cocu and Wayne which was pivotal to this thing,” Morris said.

“I think for Wayne [it was important] to come and work with a manager he holds in high esteem and obviously for Phillip the opportunity to get a world-class player and somebody he can have on the field to help bring on the youngsters.

Wayne is coming here to play for the club but he’s also wanting to accelerate his coaching badges.

“A key thing for him in terms of his long-term career ambitions is to become a manager.

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“I think the time we had with Frank [Lampard] was great in terms of demonstrating that willingness to give people time, to work with them, to help them develop. I think Wayne sees us as a good place to come and do that.”

MLS: Philadelphia Union at D.C. United Wayne Rooney will see out the end of the MLS season before joining Derby in January. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Cocu said of the arrival: “He is an extremely talented and top-class footballer.

“It is an exciting prospect for him to be joining Derby County and he can bring so much to this squad, both on and off the pitch. His credentials speak for themselves.

“But to have a player with his leadership, skill, experience, character and work ethic will be huge for us. He knows what it takes to succeed as a player and I have no doubt he will have a positive impact right across the club.

“The inspiration and motivation this can generate is massive for all of our players from the first team right through to the youngsters in the Academy. It is entirely in keeping with, and in support of, the club’s philosophy and approach.”

Morris denied Rooney’s arrival at Pride Park would negatively impact the club’s Financial Fair Play standing, claiming the “great commercial opportunity” could instead have the opposite effect.

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