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David Moyes reveals the exact moment he knew Wayne Rooney was a teenage genius at Everton

Moyes also described Rooney, still only 32, as a 'true Evertonian' despite the fact that the forward player the majority of his career at Manchester United

Jon West
Friday 11 May 2018 13:19 BST
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David Moyes has managed Wayne Rooney twice before
David Moyes has managed Wayne Rooney twice before (Getty)

David Moyes remembers the exact moment he realised he had a teenage genius on his hands in Wayne Rooney.

Everton's season-ender at West Ham could double a farewell for the former England captain, who has the opportunity for a swansong in the MLS with DC United.

West Ham manager Moyes was the man who gave Rooney his professional debut, as a 16-year-old for Everton in 2002, and it is fitting that the pair should find themselves together again, albeit on different sides, for an emotional, potential farewell.

Moyes described Rooney, still only 32, as a "true Evertonian" despite the fact that the forward player the majority of his career at Manchester United, including, briefly, under the Scot.

Moyes turned the clock back the start of the Millennium, when the boy in a man's body was beginning to demonstrate the power and precision that would make him a record goal-scorer for both United and England.

"When he was only a boy he would kick all the balls away on the training ground and I would get annoyed," said Moyes, who was Everton;s manager from 2002 to 2013.

"But one day we had a small eight-a-side game and he scored a goal by chipping the goalie right from the byline.

"It was one of those moments where the staff were looking round at each other and saying 'did he really just do that?' It was a moment when time nearly stood still for us."

Last summer's return to Everton, the club he left for United in 2004, has been a frustrating one for Rooney, who has nonetheless scored 10 Premier League goals, including a hat-trick against Moyes and the Hammers in a 4-0 win at Goodison Park in November.

"I don't want him to do to us what he did the last time so I would rather him not playing if I'm honest," Moyes added,

"He will always be a legend at Manchester United and respected for what he has done but he will always be an Evertonian."

Wayne Rooney's return has not gone as hoped (Getty)

For Moyes, though, the Evertonian he remembers most vividly is the teenage version.

"I always thought Wayne could play any position - he could play in goal, as a right-back or a centre-half," he said. "It was because he was a footballer, a genuine, old-fashioned street footballer.

"I used to say there weren't many left. When Wayne was playing for the first team he would go back and kick the ball with his pals in the street.

"Those stories are ones we all hope still exist, but I don't know that they do now. For me, he was the last of that type."

David Moyes still remembers the teenage sensation (PA)

Fame came quickly for a youngster who announced his Premier League arrival with a last-minute winner against Arsenal five days before his 17th birthday.

"It was difficult because Wayne was a street boy and he had to come into line with the others," Moyes added. "I didn't like it at the start when he was doing Pepsi adverts, or whatever it was, Adidas and Nike adverts. I wanted him to concentrate on his job, to be a top player.

"I remember the way Sir Alex dealt with Ryan Giggs, and when I was at Celtic they had Charlie Nicholas, who was the top boy and a bit similar. They way they dealt with them was the way I dealt with Wayne, although I didn't have him that long."

Moyes' time with West Ham could also be short-lived as the Scot has hinted he might walk away to a more ambitious club having successfully staved off relegation.

West Ham have secured their Premier League status (Getty Images)

"David Moyes has done his job," said veteran defender Pablo Zabaleta. "He came to keep West Ham in the Premier League, to improve a bad situation, back in November.

"We will see what happens at the end of the season. We need to wait. Obviously, the players have no control over this and cannot make any decisions."

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