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Wayne Rooney Discusses Premier League Ambitions, Moving into Coaching

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2019

D.C. United forward Wayne Rooney (9) walks over to take a corner kick during the first half of an MLS soccer match against the New York Red Bulls, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Harrison, N.J. The match ended in a 0-0 draw. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)
Steve Luciano/Associated Press

Wayne Rooney believes he still has what it takes to play in the Premier League and hopes to take Derby County up to the highest level of English football in the near future.

Per Sky Sports, the former England international told reporters all he needs is the right players around him:

"I still felt I could do it when I was at Everton, but other people made their decisions on that. Now my ambition is to get Derby back in the Premier League and hopefully play my part there for them.

"Ryan Giggs was able to play into his late thirties in the Premier League and Gareth Barry says he wants to do it at 40. It's important to understand football. It is not all about running round, it is about using your head to play the game.

"Sometimes that gets lost, because you don't score as many goals or whatever. Given the right team around me, then I could still play in the Premier League. The two teams I played for in the Premier League were Manchester United and Everton. I am at Derby now, and hopefully we can get there with them."

DERBY, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 14: Wayne Rooney of Derby County during the Sky Bet Championship match between Derby County and Millwall at Pride Park Stadium on December 14, 2019 in Derby, England. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
Marc Atkins/Getty Images

The 34-year-old also discussed his ambition to move into coaching, citing the success of former players like Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, John Terry and Scott Parker.

Rooney has joined Derby, where his 18-month contract will start in January. He'll have the role of player-coach with the Rams, who have not enjoyed a strong season and sit closer to the relegation zone than the play-off places.

Rooney played in the Premier League between 2002 and 2018, making his debut with Everton before moving to Manchester United in 2017. He's the team's all-time top scorer and won five Premier League titles with the Red Devils as well as the 2007-08 UEFA Champions League.

He returned to Goodison Park in 2017, but couldn't find much success with his former club and moved to MLS less than a year later. With D.C. United, the veteran forward got back on track:

In his final season in MLS, Rooney scored 11 goals and added seven assists, but DC United lost to eventual MLS Cup finalists Toronto FC in the first round of the play-offs.

Derby will hope Rooney's scoring form carries over to the Championship. Martyn Waghorn leads the team with six goals scored, and the Rams have the third-worst attacking record in the division, ahead of only Wigan and Middlesbrough.

They're winless in their last five Championship outings and are coming off a 1-0 loss to Millwall.