Wayne Rooney admitted he was excited by the challenge of playing for Everton again after rejoining his boyhood club for an undisclosed fee.
The 31-year-old signed a two-year deal with the club he left in 2004 on Sunday after a success-laden spell at Manchester United where he won five Premier League titles and a Champions League.
But for Rooney, Everton was always his first love and remained close to his heart. After being presented with his new Toffees shirt from manager Ronald Koeman, the striker told a news conference on Monday: “It feels great (to be back).
“I was excited this morning to go in and meet the lads on the training pitch and get going. “It’s an exciting time for myself and for Everton Football Club, we’re moving forward. We’re signing new players. We’re targeting a good season and we’re all hoping this year will be a good year for us. You want to do better than you did the previous year.
“You want to keep pressing, as players, as fans so that’s something we want to do. “I feel the club are moving in the right direction. Obviously the manager will have ideas of the players he wants to bring in.”
Rooney burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old with Everton and moved to United in a £27million deal two years later. He began to fall down the pecking order at United last season and made just 15 Premier League starts in 2016-17.
Rooney admitted this was the correct move at this point in his career, saying: “I was at the stage in my career to take the next step. I spoke with Ronald and it’s where I need to be.”
He was linked with moves to China and the United States but, when it became apparent he would be leaving United, the chance to rejoin Everton always seemed the most appealing.
Looking ahead to Everton’s Premier League clash with United at Old Trafford on September 17, Rooney added: “Obviously I had a good time at Manchester United, but football moves on, I’ve come back to Everton.”
And Rooney says winning a trophy with his boyhood club would be “incredible”, adding: “I think that’s why you play football to try to win trophies and that’s what we want to do.
“We want to be successful and we know the right man to lead us to it. “It’ll be incredible (to win silverware with Everton). I was at the FA Cup final in 1995 when we won that and to win a trophy with Everton would be a special moment.”
Rooney said his family have always been very supportive and his father went along to watch him play at United for the past 13 season, but he admitted the trip to Goodison this season will be a welcome move.
He added: “I know all my family are delighted to see me play in a blue shirt again. I’m looking forward to it.
“My eldest lad was the happiest and my dad. (My father) has come to watch me for the last 13 years in Manchester and he’ll have a five-minute drive to come and watch me now.”
Asked what position he was likely to take up in Merseyside, the England forward said: “I think that’s something…we’ll have to wait and see.
“The big thing was coming back here to play. The manager will assess the training session and I’m sure he’ll make his decisions from that.”
On the subject of Rooney’s playing position, Koeman added: “Everybody knows Wayne and the qualities of Wayne. We’ll try to get more productivity.
“A player with those qualities can play out of different positions. But offensively – a 10 behind the striker – can be a free role from the left, can be the nine, can be the seven. That’s the position where Wayne will play. “First of all the qualities of the player. That’s the most important.”
Rooney left United as their all-time leading scorer with 253 goals to his credit and also arrives at Goodison as the leading goalscorer in England’s history.
It is that wealth of experience – not the last 12 months which saw Rooney’s form and role dwindle at Old Trafford – Koeman believes will make a difference.
The Everton boss added: “We like to win. We like to win trophies and that’s not the feeling a lot of the players at Everton (have experienced).
“(We are) trying to get the best team possible. That experience to win titles is something really important for Everton. That’s one of the reasons we brought Rooney back.”
While Rooney is returning to Everton, the Toffees are set to lose a striker in Romelu Lukaku.
Manchester United agreed a fee with Everton for the Belgium international on Saturday, a deal believed to be worth an initial £75 million.
Lukaku’s exit will leave a big hole in manager Koeman’s team following his 25-goal haul in the Premier League last season.
The Dutchman said: “We know it was one of the challenges for Lukaku, we knew that, and he took the right decision and let’s hope everything goes well for him “I like him, I like the player, but it is now about Everton.”
Rooney became Everton’s sixth summer signing following the arrivals of Jordan Pickford, Davy Klaassen, Henry Onyekuru, Michael Keane and Sandro Ramirez.
They have also been linked with moves for Swansea playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson and Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud.
But Koeman said: “You know me, you can mention those names but I won’t respond to that. “So far we are doing good business. You will see in the next few weeks what we will do more. I think it is now the press conference of Wayne, which is really great. The next press conference you will get the right answer from me.
“Everybody knows that was one of the big reasons why I signed one year ago for Everton, it was all about this project.
“I think Everton are showing the ambition that everyone likes to have, and that is really great and exciting times for Everton Football Club. Now it is up to the players to be really strong and fight for it.”