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Almost half his lifetime ago, Wayne Rooney joined Manchester United from Everton for a world record fee for a teenager in 2004. United had been serial winners but were going through a rebuild which would be led by young forwards Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, who signed for the club within a year of each other.

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“It might sound a bit big-headed but I knew I could come to Man United and be part of something special, I knew I was good enough to play in this team and I could bring something different to the team.”

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Rooney on the new UTD podcast

There was no shortage of top level personnel to look forward to working with.

“I wanted to work with Sir Alex Ferguson and play with Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Roy Keane, Rio Ferdinand, these players, so I knew where I wanted to go,”

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Rooney, the 35-year-old stand-in Derby County player-manager,.

“I knew quite a few of the players. I knew Rio, Gary Neville, Scholesy, Phil Neville was here for a little bit, so I knew them from England. I think the main thing for me, I signed for the club because I wanted to play for Alex Ferguson. When I signed I had a broken foot so I couldn’t go straight into training with the players. But once I got to training with the players, the main thing was impressing Giggsy and Roy Keane.

“I wanted to impress those two, not so much the manager. I know it sounds a bit strange but it was almost like I wanted to win them over. I wanted them to believe in me and feel I was good enough. That was my main thing I wanted to do. Obviously in my first game I think I did that. I settled in really quickly.”

Rooney scored a stunning hat-trick against Fenerbahce at Old Trafford and looked as unfazed in his first Champions League game as he said he was about the record fee of approximately £27 million ($35m).

“I still couldn’t tell you what the fee was,” he says in the podcast, which is out Monday. “I knew that was football. Money changes hands in terms of two teams but I didn’t really care less.”

Rooney was soon regarded as one of the best young players in the world.

“I think there was a time when possibly I was in and around there but my focus was on winning, just winning, winning trophies,” he explains. “All I was thinking about was how I was going to do that.”

There was the bitter Manchester-Liverpool rivalry to consider as well when he moved east from Merseyside to Manchester.

“That was in the back of my head,” explains Rooney. “It was something I had thought about. It was almost about how I was talking to myself in some ways. I know what football fans want to see. Ability aside, I knew I worked hard. I knew I gave everything for the team and I know fans respect that. They expect it. As long as I was doing that, I knew my ability would get me to a place. That was the basic [level] that I needed to do, to work hard. I knew if I played to the ability I expected myself then naturally that relationship would grow and get better.”

Rooney would get better and better and win everything to win in football at United, including five Premier League titles and the Champions League.

He also became the club’s all-time leading scorer, surpassing Bobby Charlton on his way to 253 goals in 559 games for England’s 20 time champions.

Rooney now wants to become a manager and feels he’s ready. He’s matured and makes a more confident and engaging interviewee each year, but United fans will long cherish memories of one of their greatest ever players.

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