With four goals in eight games to start the 2011-2012 season, Wayne Rooney is running riot all over the Barclay's Premier League. Showing maturity and composure that belie his youth, Rooney is quickly edging himself into the discussion of just who is the current best player in the world.
But since moving to Manchester United from Everton in 2004, he's shown that he does have what it takes on the basis of pure skill and talent alone. The drive has always been there, and the consistency followed. From the moment he stepped foot on the pitch in his debut, he's given United fans some splendid moments to cherish forever.
Here are my top 10 Manchester united Wayne Rooney moments.
Yes, I know that this list will mostly be made up of goals, but this moment was a turning point in Wayne Rooney's career and is arguably one of the most important.
The latter half of 2010 was a turbulent time for the young striker. The previous season had ended badly for him, with United getting dumped out of the Champion's League by Bayern Munich, a fixture that saw Rooney sustain an ankle injury. Allegations of marital infidelity soon followed, and the 2010-2011 season began with Rooney in poor form.
Then, in October, a shocked Sir Alex Ferguson dropped the stunning news that Rooney had asked to be sold. Rooney and his representatives followed this up with a statement saying, essentially, that he didn't feel assured that United's brass were serious about putting together the best squad possible. He reiterated that him wanting to leave was about wanting more trophies, not money. Rooney's career at United was apparently over.
It was a bleak time to be a United fan.
But just two days after that statement, United dropped another bombshell. Rooney had done a complete turn around and signed a new five-year deal. After intense internal discussions, the club and the wantaway striker came to an understanding, and Rooney was now assured that the future was bright.
Many pundits predicted tough times ahead for Rooney, who would have to re-win over both the locker room and the fans.
But Rooney, showing the determination that has always characterized his game, did so, and his revitalization showed on the pitch as well. He's gotten better and better ever since.
October 2010 seems so far away now, and I believe that it was a true turning point in the lad's career, and if it continues this way, there's no doubt he will retire in United colors.
After going down 2-1 against the newly rich Manchester City, United needed a win in the second leg to prove that they were still the top side in Manchester. Gary Cook, recently ousted chief executive of City, even boasted that it was "not if, but when" they beat United.
Well, Rooney was having none of that. In injury time, Rooney rose above everyone else and headed in the winner, sending United into the final and Gary Cook to eat some humble pie.
My apologies about the quality of the video clip, but I can't seem to find a clear video of the goal, and besides, the atmosphere of the fan-shot clip is unbeatable.
2006 was another crucial year for Rooney's development at Manchester United. Prior to the start of the 2006-2007 season, United sold goal machine Ruud van Nistelrooy to Real Madrid. Ever since he had signed with United, the Dutchman had been the team's main goal threat.
With his departure, it was left to Wayne Rooney to step up in his place.
It didn't go so well initially, and the first half of the season saw Rooney go through a 10-game goal drought. Doubts were quickly raised as to Rooney's suitability to lead the front line full time.
Those doubts were smashed when Rooney broke his drought in grand style, smashing three past Bolton. The hat trick seemed to revitalize him, and his form just got better and better...when he managed to stay healthy.
United found silverware hard to come by in the 2009-2010 season, missing out on the Champion's League, the Premier League and the FA Cup. The only thing that prevented the season from being a total loss was United's win in the Carling Cup, and even then, it never looked easy against a spirited Aston Villa side in the final.
Cue Wayne Rooney, who came on for the injured Michael Owen. Not only did he secure an important trophy for his team, he also scored a sublime header that was as pretty as it was decisive. Fast forward to approximately 3:35 in the video to see the goal.
The English champions were soundly beaten by the Spanish champions in last year's Champions League Final. It was a comprehensive victory, one that United had no choice but to applaud at the end of the match.
But while United let in more goals than in the 2009 final, I'd argue that this game showed a better, classier United and the first half showed a team playing with more passion and belief than the 2009 side.
This attitude was exemplified in the goal Wayne Rooney scored, and it gave the team brief hope that perhaps the result would be different. It was not to be, but the goal was a stunner for sure, and it gives the team something to build upon for this year's title run.
The build-up for Rooney's goal starts at around the 3:08 mark in the video.
Manchester United's comprehensive 8-2 thrashing of Arsenal this season was definitely a sight to behold and filled with amazing goals from all over the pitch. And while it can be argued that Ashley Young's brace was more impressive than Wayne Rooney's set piece treble, I'd argue that Rooney's haul was more important.
First of all, since David Beckham's departure, it was never quite clear who the best free-kick taker was. Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo, Owen Hargreaves and Nani all had their chances to be the No. 1 free-kick takers, and indeed, all scored some great goals from dead ball situations. But the consistency just wasn't there. For every Ronaldo firecracker, for instance, there was one thumped against the wall leading to a Ronaldo pout-fest.
This year, we've seen Rooney take more and more free-kicks, and he's shown the ability to add swerve to pace to the ball, allowing him to take the shot over the wall and into the net. He can, indeed, bend it like Beckham.
Also, the first goal was his 150th for the club. This is an astonishing milestone for anyone, let alone someone so young.
Wayne Rooney as the ability to single-handedly demolish an opponent. He proved this in January 2010 against Hull City with four goals, the last three coming in the final 10 minutes.
I'll let the goals speak for themselves.
When Wayne Rooney was signed, there were many questions as to how effective the teenager would be and if he would live up to his massive price tag.
In his debut against Fenerbache in the Champions League, he answered those questions with authority, smashing three past the Turks and setting the stage for a career filled with hat-tricks.
Wayne Rooney followed up the Arsenal hat-trick with a second consecutive treble, this time against Bolton. The only players in premier league history to do that are Ian Wright, Les Ferdinand and Didier Drogba, showing just how difficult it is to achieve.
But aside from the goals, which were very well taken, this game was important for another reason. I believe that this was the match that showed the world that Rooney had finally become what he always threatened to: a total footballer.
His leadership was evident, and needed, in a match where their midfield suffered an early casualty. After helping to set up Javier Hernandez's first goal, he dropped back into midfield to help his team out. He even cleared the ball of his own goal-line in the frenzy that occurred soon after.
And for the rest of the game, he had it by the scruff of its neck. His passing was pin-point, he tracked back constantly to help out in defense and he kept his composure throughout the proceedings. His energy level and work-rate were so high that I think he could have played another 90 after the final whistle.
Lionel Messi had better be looking over his shoulder.
Yes. THAT goal.
Not only did Wayne Rooney say it was the best goal of his career, Sir Alex also said that it was the greatest goal he'd ever seen at Old Trafford. The fact that it sealed the win over Manchester City in a derby match made it all the more sweet.
It gets better with every viewing.
Not really a Manchester United moment per se, but it did happen with Rooney already signed to the team, so it counts for me.
Leading up to the 2006 World Cup, Rio Ferdinand launched a series of televised pranks featuring his England teammates. His victims included David Beckham, Peter Crouch, Shaun Wright-Philips, Ashley Cole, Gary Neville and yes, Wayne Rooney.
Rooney's is my favorite one, chiefly because: a) It's funny, b) It shows Rooney to have a fairly even temperament in real life and c) His wife Coleen is in on it and she absolutely loses it during the prank.
So there you have it: my top 10 moments of Wayne Rooney's Manchester United career.
Over the years, he has provided United fans with bags of memories, both good and bad, and I look forward to seeing what wonders he will bring us in the future.