The forward became a club legend in 13 seasons at Old Trafford but things could have been very different back in 2004
Rooney left Everton as one of the most exciting young forwards the Premier League had seen, and went on to score more than 250 goals for United, winning five Premier League titles and the Champions League.
Speaking on the UTD Podcast, he said Everton were keen for him to sign for Chelsea, but he only had eyes for United – though, when the Red Devils looked to delay the move, he almost ended up on Tyneside.
“I knew it [joining United] was an option before Euro 2004,” Rooney said. “I knew Manchester United wanted to sign me.
“I think going to the Euros and doing well there probably added a bit more money onto the transfer fee but I broke my foot and found out a few things.
“Everton were really struggling for money at the time and I found out they were listening to offers from people as well.
Rooney’s best Manchester United goals 😍
He was an absolute force of nature 🔥pic.twitter.com/WTQYARIkYh
— Goal (@goal) May 11, 2020
“They were trying to push me to sign for Chelsea because they were going to pay the most money. But, once I knew United were interested, I wanted some confirmation that they did want to sign me.”
When United came calling, the conversation was over as far as Rooney was concerned.
“Once I knew they did want to sign me, it was the only club [for me] as I wanted to work with Sir Alex Ferguson and play with Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Roy Keane, Rio Ferdinand, these players, so I knew where I wanted to go.
“It was 40 minutes from my home, where I grew up, as well and it was a perfect fit for me. United actually wanted to wait a year, until the following year, but then Newcastle came into talks with Everton and with myself.
“I’d gone too far then. I couldn’t wait another year, I couldn’t stay another year at Everton, so I was prepared to go to Newcastle for that year.
“I spoke to them, we spoke about salary and what I wanted if I went there was, after a year, if Manchester United come in, you have to let me go.
“Newcastle were agreeing to that but obviously, with United, I went back to them and said, if you don’t do it now, I’ll go to Newcastle with a clause in place. United obviously didn’t want me to go there so I came here.
“It was basically whatever Newcastle paid for me, United would have paid a year later.”
United eventually paid just shy of £26 million ($35m) for Rooney, at the time the highest fee ever paid for a player under 20.
He scored 17 goals in 43 appearances in his first season, which saw Chelsea win the title ahead of United in third. Newcastle finished 14th, with Alan Shearer top-scoring with 19 goals in the penultimate season of his career.