Wayne Rooney hangs up his playing boots | Ralph Lauren

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England’s record goalscorer Wayne Rooney, one of the finest players of his generation, has retired from football to become Derby County manager on a permanent basis.

The former England captain netted 53 goals in 120 games for his country – putting him second on the all-time appearance list behind the 125 of goalkeeper Peter Shilton – and scored a record 253 goals for Manchester United.

After taking charge of Derby on an interim basis in November, overseeing nine games with the second-tier side, he elected to retire from playing in order to focus on managerial duties.

Rooney, who signed a two-and-a-half-year contract Friday, said he was proud to follow in the footsteps of some famous names.

“To be given the opportunity to follow the likes of Brian Clough, Jim Smith, Frank Lampard and Phillip Cocu is such an honour.” Rooney told Derby’s website.

“I can promise everyone in involved in the club and all our fans, my staff and I will leave no stone unturned in achieving the potential I have witnessed over the last 12 months of this historic football club.”

In a remarkable career, Rooney won five Premier League titles, the Champions League and the Europa League in a 2004-2017 stint after moving from boyhood club Everton, for whom he made his debut as a 16-year-old.

After signing for Manchester United in 2004 for Stg 25.6 million ($A45.1 million), he spent 13 seasons at Old Trafford and became their record goalscorer with 253 goals, winning every honour in the domestic and European game.

Rooney said he knew Derby was the club for him as soon as he returned from the United States in January 2020, having spent a year and a half with DC United.

“When I first arrived back in the United Kingdom I was completely blown away by the potential of the club,” he said.

“The stadium, training ground, the quality of the playing staff and the young players coming through and of course the fan base that has remained loyal and supportive.”

Derby County chief executive officer Stephen Pearce said Rooney was the perfect man for the job.

“Our recent upturn in results under Wayne was married together with some positive performances, notably the 2-0 home win over Swansea City and the 4-0 victory at Birmingham City.

“During that nine-game run we also dramatically improved their defensive record and registered five clean sheets in the process, while in the attacking third we became more effective and ruthless too.

“Those foundations have provided a platform for the club to build on in the second half of the season under Wayne’s guidance.”

Derby were English champions in 1972 and 1975 but since they were relegated to the second tier in 2002, they have spent just one more season in the top flight.

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