Wayne Rooney is hoping to fulfil a lifelong ambition on Thursday by playing for Everton in Europe as he gets set for an “emotional” return to Goodison.
And having won the Europa League last season with Manchester United, the forward admits it would be “even better” to win the trophy again with the Blues.
After returning to the Club he first joined as a nine-year-old, the boyhood Evertonian is in line to make his second competitive bow for the Toffees in Thursday’s Europa League third round qualifying first leg against Slovakian side MFK Ružomberok (8.05pm kick-off).
The 31-year-old has impressed in Everton’s pre-season friendlies, opening the scoring in a 2-1 win over Kenyan champions Gor Mahia and the 1-1 draw at KRC Genk on Saturday.
Rooney never played European football during his first stint with the Blues from 2002-2004. And now that the Club are back on the continent for the first time in more than two years, England’s all-time leading goalscorer cannot wait to get the chance to do it in what he hopes will be his Goodison comeback.
“Something I always wanted to do was play in Europe with Everton,” admitted the Academy graduate, who came on as a late substitute when Manchester United beat Ajax 2-0 in May’s Europa League final. “I was a bit disappointed not to do that before but now I’ll have a chance. Obviously I won the trophy last year so I’m hoping as a club we can go far and, you never know, try to win it. It would be even better.
“The first game back will be an emotional day for me and I’m looking forward to it. Overall, I’m looking forward to the season, hopefully getting back playing regularly and trying to help this club move forward.”
Aside from Duncan Ferguson’s testimonial in 2015, Rooney last played for Everton at Goodison against Bolton in May 2004.
After a promising start to life back with the Blues, he’s excited at the prospect of walking out at a “special place” once again.
“You always get that feeling when you’re walking out the tunnel so to actually do it again in an Everton shirt will be a special moment for me,” added Rooney.
“It’s always been a special place to come and play, even when I’ve been on the opposing side.
“It’s been a positive start back here. It’s great that we got so many players in early as we’ve been able to work together for nearly a month before the first game, get to know each other and how everyone plays. It’s great to see and great to be a part of.”