He's back in blue - and ahead of the new Premier League season, Wayne Rooney sat down with evertonfc.com for an exclusive interview. The forward discusses Saturday's visit of Stoke - his first top-flight game for Everton in 13 years, his opening few weeks back at the Club, playing at Goodison once again, how he's always loved the Blues - and his new-found interest in showing magic tricks to his Toffees teammates!
How’s your return to Everton been so far?
It’s been good. I’ve really enjoyed it and we’ve had some good games during pre-season and the two competitive ones in the Europa League. Thankfully, we’re through to the next stage of that. I think the games and the training is what we’ve needed. It’s gone well and we’re ready for the first game of the season.
Have you sensed what it’s meant to Evertonians to have you back at the Club?
The Everton fans have been brilliant. The reception they’ve given me, especially the games at Goodison, has been fantastic. It’s great for me to be back at Goodison and playing in front of the home fans. The whole stadium hasn’t been open yet, so I’m sure the atmosphere on Saturday will be great. I’m looking forward to it. We know we’ve been given a tough start with the fixtures that we’ve been given, so Saturday is an important game and one that could give us a great start if we get three points.
What’s it been like for family and friends seeing you back in an Everton shirt?
They’re all made up. Everyone supported me when I went to United, but now they can support me and the team! I think everyone is delighted I’ve come back but, again, I’ve come back to win things with Everton not for the sentiment.
It’s clear how much Everton still means to you.
As a baby and all through my life I’ve been an Everton fan. That’s not changed. Obviously, football now is more like a job and sometimes you move on to different things, which I did, but in terms of being a fan, I’ve always been a fan of Everton Football Club. Once the opportunity arose to come back here, I was delighted.
Any nerves coming into Finch Farm on your first day?
There actually weren’t any nerves on my first day, I was just excited to get in, meet the lads and get started. I wasn’t driving in with a nervous feeling, I was just excited and couldn’t wait to get going.
How are you feeling about the start of the Premier League season?
I feel good. The games went well in pre-season. They are difficult because you are doing a lot of training before the games and lot of training afterwards. When you go into a game, you are never really match sharp but those games can give you that. We feel they have done that for us and you can see it in training this week. You can see the difference in sessions, the sharpness and the quality. We have done it well, got the timings right and we will see if that has worked for us come Saturday.
How did it feel putting on the blue shirt again and coming out to Z-Cars at Goodison Park?
It was great! The stadium wasn’t full with the works going on but it was a great feeling. It was a competitive game but it still felt like a pre-season friendly just because we were in the middle of our friendlies. Saturday will be completely different so I’m looking forward to it more.
Was it surreal hearing your name chanted again at what is your second home?
Yes, of course. The fans have been great and the reception I have had since I have been back has been incredible. Hopefully I can repay that with good performances and goals and trying to help the team win.
When you signed, the manager and a lot of your teammates said about the influence you can have here. Do you feel that responsibility?
Yes, you feel it but obviously I have to concentrate on playing and training. Of course, there’s things you can help players with, especially the younger ones. There’s little things you can do to help them but I have to keep doing my best in training and hopefully that will help me in the games and trying to set a good example for the other players.
Off the pitch you’ve been an influence, too, with your magic tricks!
I’ve been doing a few tricks. It’s really just a pastime but it’s good to play tricks on a few of the lads. There’s some who get them and some who are a bit mystified by them so hopefully that will continue! When you’re on the flights you do a bit to pass the time.
Is that something you’ve been interested in for a while now?
Not really. I’ve just watched a few clips on YouTube and thought I can do them!
You’ve said how keen you are to bring silverware to Everton. Looking around the squad, what can be achieved this season?
We have to get as far as we can in the cup competitions. Once you get to the later stages anything can happen but we also need to concentrate on getting a good league run going and bring some consistency. If we can do that then we’ll see where we are come Christmas time and reassess our goals.
When you rejoined you said winning a trophy with Everton would be the pinnacle. With everything you’ve achieved – you’ve won everything in club football – explain why that would mean so much.
To win a trophy at a club you’ve grown up supporting would be great. The last time we won something was in 1995 so to bring some silverware back to Goodison would be up there. It would mean a lot to me and the fans.