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"Remember the name" - 20 years ago today Wayne Rooney exploded onto the scene with his goal vs Arsenal

Ryan Sidle

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"Remember the name" - 20 years ago today Wayne Rooney exploded onto the scene with his goal vs Arsenal

"Remember the name...Wayne Rooney," 20 years ago today the then Everton forward announced himself to the world of football in the most dramatic way possible.

At just 16-years-old, Rooney had made his debut in August 2002, in a league game against Tottenham Hotspur, even assisting the opening goal.

He scored his first goals for the senior team at the beginning of October that year, scoring twice in a win in the League Cup against Wrexham.

Then, later in the month, still five days before turning 17, the teenager grabbed his first goal in the Premier League, at Goodison Park, with Arsene Wenger's side the opponents.

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Rooney runs at the Arsenal defence. Image: Everton
Rooney runs at the Arsenal defence. Image: Everton

The reigning Premier League champions turned up to face David Moyes' side having gone the previous 30 games without a defeat on their record, last losing in the league against Newcastle United in December 2001.

When Freddie Ljungberg opened the scoring in the eighth minute few would have thought the team's undefeated run was about to come to an end.

Tomasz Radzinski equalised in the 22nd minute but it looked like the two sides would share the points, when Moyes turned to his bench to bring on his teenage prodigy, with just 10 minutes left.

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With the clock heading towards injury time, Thomas Gravesen played a hopeful long ball forward, which Rooney brought down brilliantly.

He turned as the Gunners' defence backed off and then moved towards goal before unleashing his effort from around 30 yards out, as Sol Campbell tried to block the shot, beating David Seaman and ending the north London side's unbeaten run.


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After the game, Wenger was asked about the young player who had just beaten his side, and the Frenchman was full of praise for Rooney.

"It’s a special goal, and a special talent," the Arsenal boss told Sky Sports.

"An English talent, the biggest English talent in my time here, since I am in England, by far.

"He has everything you could dream to have; intelligent, quick reactions, good with running with the ball, move forward quickly, and of course, he is very accurate in front of goal. 

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"I hope he will not be injured now, in the next two or three years, and mentally he will be able to cope with what is happening to him. 

"A huge talent."

Rooney would actually only score six league goals that season but his form over the next couple of years earned him an England call up and he became the desire of all the biggest clubs.

He would of course join Manchester United, on deadline day in the summer of 2004, following his huge impact on that year's Euros, and he would go on to be an even bigger thorn in Arsenal's side.

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Rooney spent a large part of his career tormenting Arsenal. Image: Alamy
Rooney spent a large part of his career tormenting Arsenal. Image: Alamy

Having ended one undefeated run of Wenger's, Rooney played an instrumental part in ending the 49 game undefeated run that saw them win the league without losing a single game in 2003/04.

In the game that would be known as Pizzagate, the forward from Merseyside won the penalty that put United ahead, giving Ruud van Nistelrooy payback, and scored the second goal of the game in injury time.

He would go on to score 12 goals in games between the pair, more than anyone else in the rivalry, including in the famous 8-2 win in August 2011.

Speaking recently, the DC United manager revealed he didn't actually enjoy the game, saying, "I love Wenger and have a lot of respect for him and seeing him being mocked by fans with 8-2 on the scoreboard was not something I enjoyed.

"Even Nani's goal, when he lobbed Wojciech Szczesny, felt like taking the mickey."

Featured Image Credit: Everton/Alamy

Topics: Wayne Rooney, Manchester United, Arsenal, Premier League, Everton

Ryan Sidle
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