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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Rooney hails 'sweet moment' of 200th goal

Everton man joins Shearer in elite Premier League club. Ex-Toffees striker Lineker says Wayne 'under-appreciated'

Everton's Wayne Rooney with Pep Guardiola
Everton's Wayne Rooney with Pep Guardiola

Wayne Rooney netted a landmark 200th Premier League goal in the draw at Manchester City - a "sweet moment" that may help bring about the Everton forward's England return.

Frustrated at a lack of regular first-team opportunities at Manchester United, the 31-year-old this summer returned to his boyhood club after 13 record-breaking years at Old Trafford.

Rooney managed to put a smile on the face of his former and current club on Monday evening by opening the scoring at City - a 200th Premier League goal that was cancelled out late on by substitute Raheem Sterling as the match finished 1-1.

Asked how sweet it was scoring at the Etihad Stadium, the Everton forward said with a laugh: "What, again?

"Of course, it was nice obviously with my history with Manchester United. I've scored a few times here.

"To do it in such an important game for us, so early in the season, we've got tough games coming up, it was a sweet moment and I am sure the red half of Manchester will have enjoyed that one as well." It was another promising display from rejuvenated Rooney, who ran further than any other Everton player on Monday evening.

"Well, it is not bad for someone who is not fit anymore and can't get about the pitch," he said. "No, I have always put a shift in for the team, I've always done that, and tonight was no different.

Pressure

"Obviously towards the end it was getting tough for us, they were putting a lot of pressure, but I think it was a good result for us.

"We'll go back, look at it, and see what we could have done better, especially when they had 10 men."

Last season's lack of match fitness and form meant Rooney was omitted from England's last two meet-ups. The squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovenia will be named on Thursday and manager Gareth Southgate was at the Etihad Stadium for Monday's game.

"We'll see," Rooney said of his England chances. "I am focusing on Everton.

"I am sure I will speak to Gareth Southgate over the next few days and we'll have a conversation and see what happens."

Meanwhile, Gary Lineker believes the "under-appreciated" Rooney has proven himself one of the true "greats of English football" after the forward scored his 200th Premier League goal.

Lineker, incidentally once of Everton, said: "He's been a great player for English football. He'd be (one of Britain's) top 10 (ever). He's had a marvellous career. He's been slightly unfortunate that he's been our only world-class player for quite a while after the Golden Generation disappeared.

"We went through a time of being bereft of world-class talent: it was just him. He's gone to play in tournaments, sometimes not fully fit, sometimes fit, in a team that's not really good enough, and he's suffered a little bit from that.

"He probably is (under-appreciated). Those of us who remember his early career when he was phenomenal: well, he did it (at Euro 2004) in Portugal. When he got injured: we might have gone on to win that one if he hadn't, we were looking so good.

"He's not played in terribly strong England sides subsequently."

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