Jose Mourinho says he could not stand between Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney and a return to his boyhood club Everton.
Rooney’s switch to Goodison Park on a two-year deal was confirmed on Sunday after United and Everton agreed an undisclosed fee.
The 31-year-old departs Old Trafford as United’s record scorer with 253 goals in 559 appearances, having won five Premier League titles and the Champions League among 12 major trophies.
Rooney has struggled to recapture his best form in recent seasons, however, having moved into midfield under Louis van Gaal and finding first-team opportunities limited under Mourinho, who started his captain in just 15 Premier League games last season.
Regardless, the Portuguese offered a glowing response to Rooney’s departure.
Mourinho said: “It is no secret that I have long been an admirer of Wayne; he has been a model professional throughout his time at the club and will remain in the history books for many years to come.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 9, 2017
“It is never easy to see a great player playing less football than he would like and I could not stand in his way when he asked to go back to Everton.
“His experience, focus and determination will be missed and I wish him well for the future.”
United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward pointed to the place in the club’s history books that will always be Rooney’s.
“Wayne has been a fantastic servant to United since the moment he signed for us as a prodigiously talented, explosive teenager some 13 seasons ago,” Woodward added.
“Who can forget his storybook debut hat trick against Fenerbahce, the spectacular overhead kick against City and the countless match-winning performances in his time here? But after much discussion, the club has decided to accept his request to rejoin his boyhood team.
“He goes having created some of the most magical moments in some of the most successful years in the club’s history. Wayne leaves us as our greatest ever goalscorer and having won every major trophy in the game. His record will take decades for anyone to get close to matching and I am extremely grateful for the way he has led from the front since being appointed club captain three years ago.
“On behalf of the whole club and our hundreds of millions of fans around the world, we wish Wayne all the very best for the next phase of his incredible career.”
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