Wayne Rooney has denied that his Manchester United career went “stale” during his final season at Old Trafford, insisting that the only reason to end his 13-year stint at the club was to play regular football at Everton.
Rooney, 31, has completed a free transfer return to Goodison Park, having left his boyhood club for United as an 18-year-old in August 2004.
During his time at Old Trafford, Rooney won every major club honour at least once and eclipsed Sir Bobby Charlton as United’s all-time leading goal scorer.
But despite lifting the EFL Cup and Europa League trophy as United captain last season, his first-team opportunities were limited under Jose Mourinho, with Rooney starting just 25 of the club’s 64 games in all competitions.
Speaking at a news conference at Goodison Park on Monday, though, Rooney claimed that his United career did not end on a low note.
“It hadn’t gone stale,” he said. “I needed to play more games and I just didn’t play often enough. I know I am at my best when I play regularly, so I spoke to Jose [Mourinho] and felt it was best to play somewhere else.
“It was frustrating not to play. I have played regularly all my career. It was the first time I hadn’t played and it’s not me — I want to play football.
“I was the captain of United, so you have to bring positivity to the place and the dressing room, but it was hard. I love playing football and that’s what I want to do.
“When it was clear that I would leave united, there were other options, of course, but once Ronald Koeman asked me to come back to Everton, there was only one place I wanted to come.”