LONDON • Wayne Rooney admitted it felt "weird" putting on the blue shirt of his boyhood club Everton once again in a testimonial match for Goodison Park cult hero Duncan Ferguson on Sunday.
Rooney, who started out with the Toffees before he was sold to Manchester United in 2004, came off the bench to a standing ovation for the final 15 minutes of the match against Villarreal.
The Spanish side won 2-1 before a crowd of almost 35,000.
United manager Louis van Gaal will be relieved that Rooney emerged unscathed from his run- out ahead of the Old Trafford club's Premier League opener against Tottenham on Saturday.
"Going back into the home dressing room again felt weird," said England star Rooney. "I was a little bit nervous as I didn't know what to expect. I got a great reception and I was delighted with that.
"It was also great for my kids to see me playing in an Everton shirt," added the 29-year-old who has two sons - Kai, five, and Klay, two.
"The day brought back a lot of memories."
Team-mate Rafael da Silva will soon be putting on a different kit too, except this swop is serious business. The United right-back is set to become the sixth high-profile departure this summer with the Brazilian joining Lyon in a £2.1 million (S$4.5 million) deal.
Da Silva, who had entered the final 12 months of his contract at Old Trafford, will sign a four-year deal with the French club this week.
His departure after making 96 appearances for United follows the exits of Robin van Persie, Luis Nani, Radamel Falcao and Tom Cleverley this summer. Angel di Maria's £44.1 million move to Paris Saint-Germain is also imminent.
The arrival of Matteo Darmian, the Italy defender, from Torino last month sealed da Silva's fate as van Gaal continues a dramatic overhaul of the playing squad.
Da Silva, 25, joined United from Fluminense with his twin brother, Fabio, in 2007, aged 17.
Former United manager Alex Ferguson expected the twins to become his regular full-backs but that did not materialise.
Both were undermined by injuries while Rafael's rashness also proved a source of frequent frustration.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON