Rooney to join Derby as player-coach

LONDON • Wayne Rooney, 33, will be leaving Major League Soccer (MLS) after less than two seasons to return to play in England and be closer to his family.

The former England captain will remain at DC United until the end of the season before joining second-tier Championship team Derby County as a player-coach from January. He has scored 23 goals in 41 league games for DC.

Yesterday, he signed an 18-month contract that can be extended until the end of the 2021-22 season. He said: "I'm very excited about the opportunity that Derby County have provided me with. I'm sure I can make a big contribution and can't wait to meet everyone, especially the fans. I am equally excited to begin my coaching career at Derby, working with both the first team and academy."

The former Manchester United forward, who is United and England's all-time record scorer, had another two years remaining on the contract he signed with DC after joining from Everton last summer, and club co-chairmen Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien said they understood "his difficult situation of being so far away from his family".

They added: "We have accepted that this is the best decision for all parties. Wayne is an exceptional leader and one of the most iconic players to play the game, so we look forward to his continued contributions to the team this season."

The Washington-based team remain in contention for the MLS play-offs, so Rooney's stay in America could end in November.

The Rams have languished in the Championship since being relegated from the English top flight in 2008, but new Dutch manager Phillip Cocu believes his incoming recruit can aid their promotion bid.

He said: "Wayne is a top-class footballer... His credentials speak for themselves... 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."

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2019, with the headline 'Rooney to join Derby as player-coach'. Print Edition | Subscribe