At the back end of last season, pundits and fans alike were convinced they were witnessing the end of Wayne Rooney at the highest level.
Twelve years at Manchester United had produced 253 goals but, as Teddy Sheringham put it, he wasn’t just on the other side of the hill, he had ‘jumped off the cliff and was down the bottom.’
Fast forward six months and it’s fair to say he’s proved everyone wrong. Back at his boyhood club Everton, Rooney is fit and firing, providing a throwback to the halcyon days of the noughties when he was in his prime.
It seems odd to see Rooney’s name alongside Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero at the top of the Golden Boot charts, but there he is with nine goals in his first 15.
Raheem Sterling is having the season of his life at Manchester City, Alvaro Morata has proved his £60million worth at Chelsea… but they too have nine, the same as free transfer Rooney.
In fact, the former England captain’s replacement at Old Trafford, Romelu Lukaku, has the same amount, despite the fact that Rooney has been playing deeper at Everton. All in all, the stats are heavily in his favour.
Back to Sheringham last season. ‘Where he is going to go I don’t know, whether he goes to China for the last couple of years … he’s still only 31, it’s a shame.
‘He started early at 16 and has had a fantastic career, but I think it’s time to go somewhere else and enjoy his football.’
This is not to slate former Tottenham and Manchester United striker Sheringham, for his opinion on Rooney was shared by thousands back in May.
Plagued by on and off-field issues, his career was hurtling to an end and it looked certain that a big-money offer from America or China would take his fancy.
But how wrong we were. With the fire still burning in his belly, Rooney opted to stay on British shores and he moved home to Everton, where he has not only found the net but is enjoying a longer run of games than perhaps even he thought possible.
Last season he endured a bit-part role at Old Trafford, with almost half of his 25 appearances coming from the bench. He lasted the 90 minutes just six times.