By Annie Ross
Wayne Rooney arrived to play for DC United just over 12 months ago and almost immediately achieved icon status:
12 goals and seven assists to spark DC to an unlikely spot in the MLS playoffs.
He has been similarly effective in 2019 and D.C. is in postseason contention, but yesterday Rooney, who still had two-and-a-half years to run on a contract that sees him earn a $3.5 million salary in 2019-20, bailed on us to join English Championship side Derby County in a player-coach role when the winter transfer window opens in January.
ESPN is reporting that the 33-year-old will take a pay cut.
DCU co-owner and CEO Jason Levien confirmed to ESPN FC much of what transpired and had been reported in recent days: While Rooney continues to enjoy life in MLS, his family had found it difficult to settle and is eager for a return to England. Rooney took a short trip home after a July 18 match against FC Cincinnati to not only heal some nagging injuries but get in some family time. Upon his return, he expressed concerns.
“When [Rooney] came back he said he had a strong desire to return home, and not just to the U.K., but to his house where he lives, and didn’t know if he was going to be able to continue after this season, or for the full [length] of his contract,” said Levien, who noted Rooney had “never lived outside of a 30-40-mile radius his entire life until he came to Washington.”
“We talked about that,” Levien added, “and the personal side of it, and what it meant for the club and what it meant for him, and how we could accept that and make the best out of the situation for everybody, and be supportive of what was going on with his personal life, his need to move back home.”