On this day, 14 years ago, a 16-year-old naturally coiffed Wayne Rooney made his debut for Everton. At the time, he was just a youth player, on an £80-a-week contract, and he couldn't even legally drive a car in England. Everton was pitted against Arsenal, riding a 30-match unbeaten streak, but that didn't matter one bit to young Wayne Rooney.
In the dying moments of the match, Wazza collected a long pass from Thomas Gravesen with a smooth touch more reminiscent of Thierry Henry than a kid two years out from even being able to vote. A quick turn, a preparatory touch, and then. And then. THE strike.
“A brilliant goal! A brilliant goal! Remember the name, WAYNE ROONEY!”
On that day, Rooney became the Premier League's youngest ever goalscorer, breaking Michael Owen's record, and his name never left English lips, for better or for worse. While today, we look at Rooney as a player who fully appears to have been a professional for 14 years, with all the wear and tear that brings, back then Rooney was just a ray of young hope, another wonderkid with all the possibility in the world.
And it's not as if his career's disappointed. He's won multiple Premier League titles, the Champions League, and scored goals at an absolutely fantastic clip.
But that day? He was just a kid with the whole world in front of him.
Even better? Exactly two years later, Wayne Rooney made his Manchester United debut against Fenerbahce in Champions League. What'd he do to celebrate it? Oh, just a hat trick. No big deal.