'A Special Goal From A Very Special Talent'

When Wayne Rooney picked his spot from 25 yards and drove a ferocious shot past Arsenal’s David Seaman on 19 October 2002, he catapulted himself into the public eye aged just 16.

It will be a game forever remembered as the moment the footballing world became aware of the young Everton Academy graduate’s precocious talent, as his dramatic last-minute winner went into Goodison folklore.

Fifteen years on, we look back at quotes from those who were there on the day to witness the glorious drama.

David Moyes
Everton manager on the day
“It was a wonder goal. Thomas Gravesen did well to bring it down and give it to him, but the lad then faced up, attacked the defenders and hit it.

"Sometimes we have a bit of a go at him for trying unrealistic shots from that range, but this time I felt with the space in front of Wayne that he had a serious chance to score, and he did it pretty well.

“Wayne's an Evertonian through and through and will probably be out with his pals this evening showing them how he scored the winner. There are special players. He can become one of them."

Arsene Wenger
Arsenal Manager
"Rooney is the biggest England talent I've seen since I arrived in England. There has certainly not been a player under 20 as good as him since I became a manager here.

"We were beaten by a special goal from a very special talent.

"I've seen a bit of him in recent months, his couple of goals on TV in the Worthington Cup, and when he came on to do so well at Manchester United recently.

"But you do not need to be an expert to see that he is a special talent, very special."

David Unsworth
Everton Defender v Arsenal
“We'd got used to Wayne doing ridiculous things in training so it wasn't a shock to us that he could score a goal like that against Arsenal.

“I was right behind the line of his shot. I thought it was going over but it dipped at the last moment. By the time I got over to celebrate, it was a melee with everyone jumping on Wayne.”

Unsy Rooney

Alan Irvine
Blues Assistant Manager on the day

“I use his goal against Arsenal as part of the presentations I do now. I've shown it to everyone from the Chinese FA to UEFA. That commentary: 'Remember the name … Wayne Rooney,' has become a special line.

“We knew Wayne was capable of a goal like that, so it wasn't a massive surprise. He didn't need to be coached; he had such a good understanding of the game. He went straight from school to training permanently with the first team, unheard of in my experience. It was a case of sink or swim - and Wayne swam.”

Richard Wright
Everton Goalkeeper at Goodison that afternoon 

“Wayne had this aura about him, even at 16 nothing fazed him. I was desperate to beat my former club so when the ball hit the back of the net, I couldn't have been happier.

“I was possibly the only Everton player who didn't go up to jump on his back - running was never my forte and it was a long way away!”

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