News & Politics

Wayne Rooney: 5 Things to Know

DC United's new manager will bring world-class level attention to the struggling soccer team.

Wayne Rooney speaking at the Audi Field ribbon cutting in 2018. Photograph by Daniel Swartz.

Wayne Rooney will be DC United’s next manager. The Athletic’s Pablo Maurer broke the news of the move last night, and the Washington Post soon filled in details, including that Rooney arrived at Dulles Sunday and is expected to finalize a $1 million a year deal soon. For soccer fans, this is huge, and the Rooney family’s possible relocation is also a bright spot of news for DC this summer. Here’s why:

1. Rooney was one of the game’s best players

At 36, Rooney’s playing career is over, but what a career it was. He’s Manchester United’s top goal-scorer of all time, a title he also holds for the national team of England, a small country located between Scotland and France. He played one last season for Everton before coming to DC United in 2018. In 2020 he returned to the UK to manage and play for Derby County Football Club, from which he retired last January.

Rooney has been responsible for some of the game’s most thrilling goals. By way of example, here’s a jaw-dropping goal he scored for DCU.:

2. He’s one of the world’s most famous people—though he has a lower profile in the US

There’s a reason the press in the UK threw the type of resources usually reserved for floods and hurricanes to cover the Rooney family’s attendance at Wimbledon over the weekend: These people sell newspapers. As Dan Steinberg first pointed out, Rooney’s Twitter following dwarfs that of all of Washington’s professional sports teams and their biggest stars, combined. In the US, though, he can make a shirtless appearance on a boat without ending up in the Daily Mail—a Guardian reporter once walked around DC showing people his photo, and found about 1 in 5 people recognized him. He is, in many ways, the perfect DC celebrity, the kind of famous person who can do karaoke in Georgetown without causing much of a stir.

3. DC United really needs him

There are 14 teams in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference. DC United currently ranks No. 13 among them, with five wins, ten losses, and two draws. Its recent game against Philadelphia Union was a bloodbath. It fired its last coach after a 2-4 beginning to the current season, hasn’t won a game in the league’s playoffs since 2015 (and didn’t even qualify for those last year), and hasn’t been to a final since George W. Bush was President. With its snappy newish stadium and Rooney doing a reverse Ted Lasso, could the team begin to turn things around?

4.  He can still pull off a good scandal every now and then

VW-gate. The Dulles incident. The Auld Slapper. Never a dull moment.

5.  Coleen

Where to begin with Rooney’s partner? Maybe this explainer on the “Wagatha Christie” case? Her leaked texts about living in Washington? The fact that she believes this area is “She added: “quite behind the UK” (she’s probably not talking about the five-hour time-zone difference)? We pray she will return, too.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.

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