Wayne Rooney has rejected an opportunity to return to his roots at Everton, with the current Derby County boss revealing that he has turned down the offer of a managerial interview with the Toffees.
A successor to Rafa Benitez is being sought at Goodison Park, after the former Liverpool manager was relieved of his duties on January 16.
Club legend Rooney was immediately mooted as a leading candidate to take the reins on Merseyside, but the former England captain says he is fully committed to his role with the Rams.
What did Rooney say about Everton?
Rooney told reporters when asked if he has been contacted by the Toffees: “Everton approached my agent and asked me to interview for the job. But I turned it down. I believe I will be a Premier League manager and I am ready for that 100 percent. But I have a job at Derby, which is important to me.”
It’s a shocking revelation, as Rooney’s ties to the club and his job at Derby County both indicated he would be a logical and sensible choice.
For Rooney to declare he’s ready to manage in the Premier League and then turn down Everton is a strong condemnation of the Toffees, their current managerial position, and owner Farhad Moshiri who has taken significant heat for the publicly drawn-out nature of this managerial search.
It’s also a sign of committment to Derby County, who is mired in a financial crisis. The Rams, who challenged for promotion to the Premier League under Rooney each of the last two years, are in a relegation position in the Championship currently thanks to a massive deduction for entering administration.
Why is Rooney a legend at Everton?
The Croxteth native graduated out of Everton’s academy system to make a stunning impact at senior level while still in his teens.
A memorable effort against Arsenal saw him open his Premier League goal account, with 17 efforts recorded through 77 appearances in an initial spell at Goodison Park.
Rooney left for Manchester United in 2004 and went on to spend 13 record-setting years at Old Trafford, becoming the Red Devils’ all-time leading goalscorer and a man with Premier League and Champions League winners’ medals to his name.
He headed back to Everton in 2017, but lasted just one season before moving to MLS and linking up with D.C. United.
Steps were retraced to England when joining Derby as a player-coach in 2019, with an appointment as the club’s permanent manager made in January 2021.
He has experienced a baptism of fire in professional management, with the Rams stung with a 21-point deduction this season as the club’s very existence hangs in the balance, but his stock has soared while pulling everybody through testing times and delivering positive results on the field.
Who else is being linked with Everton?
With Rooney out of the running, the Toffees must now turn their attention elsewhere.
Duncan Ferguson has been placed in caretaker charge of the club for a second time and he could come into the reckoning for a full-time role if no alternative can be lined up and performances start to improve.
Frank Lampard has, however, emerged as a strong favourite to take over at Goodison Park, with another former England international looking to return to the dugout for the first time since being sacked by Chelsea in January 2021.
Vitor Pereira is also a favorite for the position, which he confirmed during a Sky Sports interview over the international break.